The Lehigh Mountain Hawks play against Georgetown on Goodman Campus. Current students and alumni talk about how The Rivalry football game traditions have changed over the years. (Haoyang Zhang/B&W Staff)

Then and Now: Alumni and current students compare Le-Laf traditions


This fall semester marks the return of in-person Lehigh-Lafayette Rivalry festivities. Celebrating the 157th game of the most-played rivalry in college football, students, alumni and faculty anticipate the return of celebrations both old and new. 

The week leading up to The Rivalry game features a slew of events to generate excitement and school spirit. Some of these events have continued for years, while others have been added to the Le-Laf docket more recently. The Brown and White spoke to current students and alumni, as well as faculty members, about the similarities and differences in their Le-Laf experiences.

The main event of the week is the football game set to take place on Nov. 20 at Goodman Stadium. Sophomore quarterback Dante Perri said that over the past few weeks, the team has gotten excited for their chance at redemption after losing to Lafayette in the spring. 

“I can’t wait to run out on the field with the crowd that people have been describing,” Perri said. “I’ve never played in front of that many people before. It should be a pretty cool experience.” 

Rachel Zale, ‘22, said she expects the community will be celebrating more than they have in past years, since so many current Lehigh students have never experienced The Rivalry before. 

Much excitement for the game seems to be shifting to the events leading up to it instead. 

Amy Lemle, ‘71, said that sports were a huge part of campus life when she attended Lehigh. Zale said she finds the overall presence of sports on campus to be “typically pretty minimal.” 

Aside from the game, Lemle said she remembers a spirited feeling of community characterizing not only the game but also the weekend. Lemle said each weekend leading up to the game was more exciting than the last. 

“They had a big bonfire with hundreds of people,” Lemle said. “It was just so much fun, with so much community. I didn’t know about The Rivalry before, but boy, did I enjoy it during.”  

Nick Christy, assistant director for programming at the Office of Student Engagement, said that 2017 was the last year a bonfire was organized, after which they planned to continue the tradition when the game was being played at Lafayette College. Christy said he hopes the tradition will return next year. 

Christy said a number of other events continued this year, including a banner painting event that hosted more than 72 students. The office works closely with Lehigh After Dark in organizing Lehigh-Lafayette related programming. 

Bed races is  another tradition that is returning in 2021. Starting in 1967, the races have been an instrumental aspect of The Rivalry.  This year, the event has undergone some changes.

“Things like bed races are going to be different this year because they’re going to be down on Packer (Avenue), and they’re going to be head to head versus just doing times,” Christy said. 

Lemle said that the Marching 97 always performed at the game and the performance usually included a special routine to build excitement. The Marching 97 will also be performing this year.

Lemle said when she was at Lehigh, students frequented the weekly football games due to the convenient location of the stadium, which was located where Rauch Business Center now stands. Football games now take place on Goodman Campus.

Zale said that she has never been to a sporting event except for the Lehigh-Lafayette game her freshman year. She said The Rivalry acts as a fun bonus to Lehigh’s camaraderie. 

“People have a lot of pent-up energy and excitement about Le-Laf,” Zale said. “I think the school spirit will be even more than it usually is.” 

Zale credits the exceptional excitement for The Rivalry game to its historic legacy. She said the experience of boarding the busses to watch the game at Lafayette her freshman year has now become a fond memory. 

Lemle said she has returned for The Rivalry game a number of years after graduating, looking forward to it as a reunion for her college friends. 

“It was like going to camp, and everybody’s in it together,” Lemle said. “It was a very strong feeling of camaraderie.”

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1 Comment

  1. Doug Henning Sports Ed 73-75 on

    Amy Lemle is Class of 75… the first class of women who arrived in 1971… There were no women in the class of 71… Her husband Craig was class of 74…

    Otherwise good fun retro of how things were…

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