Senior Justin Gurth speaks at the 2021 Beat Lafayette Luncheon. Senior players and coaches have lunch with members of the “50 Game Club,” who have attended 50 or more Lehigh-Lafayette games. (Gabi Falk/B&W Staff)

More than football: Campus-wide Le-Laf traditions


As can be seen throughout campus, the football team is not alone in its efforts to beat Lafayette. This year the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department is also involving itself in the festivities. 

While the Lehigh-Lafayette football game is the hallmark event of The Rivalry, the week preceding the game is packed with other events engaging various student groups and academic departments, all intended to boost school spirit and community. 

Beginning in 2018, Lehigh’s American Society of Civil Engineers Student Chapter along with the support of Peter Bryan, ‘88, Lehigh Valley Technical Associates, Weir Welding and the staff at Fritz Laboratory designed a “Lehigh” steel beam to crush a “Lafayette” steel beam using a five million-pound testing machine. 

This year, the event commemorated Bryan, who recently passed away. Bryan was instrumental in the conception of the event, said Jillian Tamarazzo, ‘22, a member of the executive board of Lehigh’s American Society of Civil Engineers Student Chapter. To do so, Bryan’s initials were painted on the Lehigh beam before it was crushed.

“For everyone to come together during Le-Laf week, it kind of helps you have a more social take on your department,” Tamarazzo said.

Adding to the social traditions, bed races, a Le-Laf week custom organized by the Association of Student Alumni, allows students to create teams and race mobile beds against one another. 

Previously held on Memorial Walk, the 2021 event took place on Packer Avenue, said Megan Purcell, ‘22, vice president of the Association of Student Alumni. 

She said this new system was adopted to allow more teams to race against one another in a bracket-style tournament as opposed to the previously held time trials. 

Purcell said Le-Laf week is her favorite time of year, a sentiment she believes many of her fellow students can relate to. As a leader within a student organization, she said these groups play a crucial role in the momentous week. 

“I think it’s really important that all these organizations get involved to help promote these traditions and keep them alive so everyone has the most fun and the best week possible,” Purcell said.

Music groups are also getting involved in the school spirit. Held on Nov. 18, the La Lafapella concert featured several Lehigh a capella and choir groups. 

Cecily Ritchie, ‘23, a member of The Melismatics, said each group performed two to three songs after which all the groups united to sing the Lehigh alma mater. 

Ritchie said as someone who enjoys music, she is glad musical performances have become part of the Le-Laf week traditions as The Rivalry is part of Lehigh’s culture. 

She said having greater involvement from student groups only adds to the spirit felt throughout campus as they increase student participation.

“It’s not just about the football game, but it’s about celebrating Lehigh and The Rivalry itself,” Ritchie said.

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