50-Game members enjoy lunch with players, coaches before The Rivalry

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Every year, the Lehigh Athletics Department hosts the 50-Game member luncheon the week of the historic Rivalry football game between Lehigh and Lafayette.

Although senior football players and coaches are present, alumni who have attended at least 50 Rivalry games — some of whom attended 50 consecutive games and are at least 90 years old — make the gathering memorable.

“It’s unique because of the tradition of The Rivalry, and you get to see people that you would only see once a year,” Norman Goldberg, ’63, said. “You get to mingle with the coaches and sit with one of the senior players.”

As of this year, there are 121 50-Game members — 39 of whom attended last year’s luncheon.

Goldberg will be attending his 57th Le-Laf football game and his seventh luncheon this year. The former school broadcaster has missed only one game in the last 57 years. He said there was a lot of excitement leading up to the Saturday face-off.

Norman Goldberg, ’63 has attended the 50-Game member luncheon for the past six years. The luncheon is hosted by the Lehigh Athletics Department. (Courtesy of Norman Goldberg)

“It’s in my blood after all these years, and I look at the calendar to see when the game is so I don’t make any other plans,” Goldberg said.

Bob Bevan, ’60, is part of a five-generation Lehigh family and will be attending his 67th rivalry game and 17th luncheon. 

“The passion that my father had for Lehigh carried over to my brother and I, along with my daughters and two grandchildren,” Bevan said. “The rivalry with Lafayette is at the top of my list for passion and will be there for the rest of my life.”

Greg Strobel, the assistant athletic director for Campus and External Relations, and Dean of Athletics, Joe Sterrett, are responsible for organizing the event and have not seen another school host a gathering quite like this one.

It’s very unique that we keep track of this and that the people who attend take a lot of pride,” Strobel said.

Strobel said he expects a lower turnout this year since the game will be played in Easton instead of Bethlehem. He said a higher percentage of 50-Game members attend the luncheon when the game is played at Goodman Stadium.

The athletics department invites the football team’s senior class to the luncheon to educate players on the history and tradition of The Rivalry. This will be one of their last opportunities to interact with the alumni and pay their respects to the university and its fans.

Senior running back Dominick Bragalone, who will be one of the players in attendance, said he has many fond memories over the last four years with fans and alumni.

“The alumni have been awesome supporters of me and for the football team,” Bragalone said. “Whether we are winning or losing, they are always the first ones to come up to you and congratulate you on your performance.”

The Rivalry will be the seniors’ last collegiate game, and a win against Lafayette would give them a 4-0 record in the Rivalry game during their time at Lehigh.

Bragalone expects the university to bring the energy next week.

“It’s a huge game whether you’re a current or former football player, and everyone treats the game like it makes or breaks your season,” Bragalone said. “Most people will come up to you and ask how you did against Lafayette at the end of the season.”

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