Lehigh cheerleaders perform a stunt during a football game at Goodman Stadium. Senior members of the cheer and dance teams reflected positively as they look back on their experiences with their teams.(Courtesy of Sandy Gotwalt)

L-E-T-S-G-O: Mountain Hawk cheerleaders reflect on The Rivalry


The Lehigh cheerleaders run onto the field with the football team for the Lehigh-Lafayette game — the most-played football rivalry in the nation and the longest uninterrupted annual rivalry series — and hold their Lehigh flags high.  

“The rush of running alongside the team with the Marching 97 playing around us creates such an exciting atmosphere,” cheerleader Hannah Gotwalt, ’22, said. 

The cheerleading team has been preparing for the Rivalry game the entire season. 

We’ve spent weeks practicing for the game, so by the morning of the game, it’s about making sure we’ve come well-rested and ready to perform,” Gotwalt said. 

Compared to the team’s ordinary routines, the routines at the Rivalry game feature challenging stunts to impress the crowd. 

This year, Gotwalt said the team has been practicing more difficult and exciting pyramids all season.

“It’s kind of like our last conglomeration of just everything we have done for the football team,” cheerleading captain Madison Horn, ’20, said.  “It’s our last big chance to go out there and make sure that everyone at the game is just really happy.” 

With the help of her coach, Horn said she comes up with different ideas for routines to make sure the team looks its best.

Horn said the team is trying to get the crowd to participate in its cheers — even more than in a normal game — to increase school spirit. 

Horn said her responsibilities as captain of the team include making sure that the team continues cheering, keeps dancing, stays motivated and keeps the crowd engaged. 

“When I’m down on the field, I’m just always making sure that we’re moving around and making sure that people are always spirited,” she said.  “I’m kind of like a cheerleader to the team by keeping them pumped up, too.” 

Horn said the cheerleaders play a large part in ensuring the spirit stays present. The team also wants provide a vibrant atmosphere, especially for the football players. 

“We keep in mind that a lot more people to come to this game, so we add a few extra pyramids and make sure our dances and cheers are sharp,” said Sarah Valenti, ’22, a cheerleader and the manager of the team’s social media.

Besides solely cheering at the game, Horn said the team participates in different events leading up to the rivalry game. 

For Eco Flame Friday, Valenti said the band and cheerleaders burst into classrooms and sing Lehigh fight songs. She said they will disrupt classes to keep spirit going and morale high. 

“We contribute a lot to the energy and excitement of the game,” Gotwalt said. “So by the time of the game, we’re just as excited as the crowd.” 

Before the game, Valenti said she has always enjoyed tailgating, which is one of her favorite parts of the rivalry. She said she enjoys being surrounded by alumni and students, singing fight songs to get everyone excited and cheering loudly.

Another favorite part of the game is, of course, when Lehigh scores a touchdown.

“When Lehigh scores, the crowd gets really pumped up and we run with the flag,” Horn said. “It’s just like this adrenaline rush, because the bands playing, we’re running flags, bells are being rung for each point that we get. It’s such a great moment at every game.”

Horn said she has fond memories from her first year on the team, when crowds rushed from the bleachers and towards the field together, dancing and cheering after Lehigh won the game.

She said promoting Lehigh spirit, taking part in events on campus and engaging in tradition makes her proud to be a Lehigh cheerleader during the Rivalry Week. 

Because of the school spirit at the Rivalry games, Horn loves coming out to support the team.

“When Lehigh wins, we run on the field,” Valenti said. “The camaraderie and then the alma mater—everyone is super happy if they win.”

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