Lehigh fans have two favorite athletic teams: Lehigh and whoever is playing Lafayette. The Lehigh-Lafayette rivalry is one of the longest-standing and most storied rivalries in college athletics – and for good reason. The two schools, located less than 20 miles apart, have faced one another since 1884.
In fact, the Lehigh-Lafayette football game is the most-played football rivalry in the nation. The two teams took to the gridiron in 1884, a mere one year after standardized football rules were established. The teams have met every year since 1897. To this day, the much-anticipated game draws sellout crowds and national media attention, alternating home field advantage between Lehigh's Goodman Stadium and Lafayette's Fisher Field in Easton, Pa.
Lehigh meets Lafayette on the playing field in most sports, either during the regular season or at the Patriot League Championship. In fact, the schools' basketball teams faced off for the Patriot League Championship in 2010, scoring the winner (Lehigh, of course) a berth in the NCAA tournament.
Founder's Day has been a Lehigh tradition since it was first celebrated on October 9, 1879, following the death of Asa Packer in May. The annual October event celebrates Asa Packer's legacy and honors the current leaders of the Lehigh community. The day is often used to dedicate buildings, install faculty and recognize achievements. Early Founder's Day festivities even pitted the first-year and sophomore classes against one another in events such as football, track, tug-o-war and rope tying.
Each entering class is represented by an official class flag, which features the class's graduation year and colors. The flag is presented to the class at The Rally, held each fall as the first official gathering of an incoming class. A class will have the same colors and flag design as their “adopting class” – the class that is 50 years their senior. The tradition began in 1945, when the Class of 1899 adopted the Class of 1949. Alumni representatives return to campus to carry their class flags at The Rally. When the flags aren't in use, they decorate the hallways of the Alumni Memorial Building, with the four current undergraduate classes' flags displayed in the atrium. The oldest surviving original class flag is from the Class of '89 – that's 1889!
Marching 97 Campus Tour
The week before the Lehigh-Lafayette football game is one of the most exciting times on South Mountain. Students, faculty and staff proudly wear their brown and white and participate in Spirit Week, six days chock-full of activities that culminate with the gridiron showdown. One of the highlights of the week is the Marching 97 Campus Tour, when members of Lehigh's infamous marching band weave their way through campus buildings, dining halls, classrooms, and even the library, serenading the campus community with all the traditional Lehigh fight songs. Watch a video of the Marching 97 Campus Tour >
In 2007, members of the Class of 2010 revived an old Lehigh tradition: Bed Races. As part of the annual Spirit Week, students form teams, decorate beds and drag race them down the length of Library Drive. In the early days of bed racing, students constructed their beds from scratch in an effort to demonstrate their engineering prowess. The adventuresome students raced down the side of South Mountain instead of the flatter, safer Library Drive that thankfully serves as today's track.
One of the oldest traditions of Spirit Week is the annual Turkey Trot, a grueling 2.6-mile race open to the entire Lehigh community. The race kicks off at Packer Church and winds its way through campus to the top of the hill (Lehigh's own version of Heartbreak Hill) and back.
In 2007, Lehigh launched a new tradition that continues to bring alumni back to campus to celebrate the graduation of a new class of alums. Reunion weekend takes place during the same time as Commencement, creating a campus-wide, weekend-long celebration of Lehigh's past and future. Members of the 50-year alumni class return to campus and witness the graduation of the class they adopted four years earlier at the Rally. Many returning classes participate in events like the Parade of Classes, luncheons, and an ice cream social.