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Lehigh-Laf-a-palooza fires up school spirit

The Mountain Hawk takes the stage for the first time under his new name, Clutch.

Freezing temperatures didn’t stop Lehigh students from coming out to the Rauch Courtyard Nov. 19 to show off their school spirit at the first Lehigh-Laf-a-palooza.

The event was part of Spirit Week leading up Lehigh's 31-15 win over Lafayette in the 144th meeting between the two schools in college football’s most-played rivalry. It was more than just a pep rally, featuring music, dancing, a chance to cheer for Lehigh’s athletics teams, and the naming of the Mountain Hawks’ mascot.

There was even a history lesson, courtesy of Scott Wojciechowski ’09, president of the Class of 2009, who, along with Brian Cohen ’11, president of the Class of 2011, served as master of ceremonies for the event.

“Where you are standing used to be the 40-yard line of Taylor Stadium,” Wojciechowski said. “Lehigh used to beat Lafayette right here!”

After weeks of voting on a name for Lehigh’s mascot, the winner was finally revealed. On stage came a big blue “Hello my name is…” sticker, and when the Mountain Hawk was called to the stage, the mascot’s new official name was announced:

Clutch.

The name drew a mixed reaction from the crowd, but there was nothing but enthusiasm for Lehigh’s football team, especially the seniors. “Ten games down and one game left,” Coach Andy Coen told the crowd. He didn’t need to say who that game is against.

Just days before beating Lafayette, Lehigh's football team basks in the cheers of the fans who packed Rauch Courtyard for the first Lehigh-Laf-a-palooza.

Brian Jackson ’09, a senior on the football team, said Lehigh-Laf-a-palooza was a great demonstration of school spirit.

“When I see people excited, it makes me play harder, play better and feel better,” Jackson said.

Band member Jessica Fraser ’11 expressed pride in the important role that the Marching 97 plays in supporting the university.

“The band has the most school spirit because we play to get the crowd pumped up,” Fraser says.

The Marching 97 performed during the event, following local band, Kublai Khan, which opened the festivities. State Radio, a popular indie rock band from Boston, closed the event and had the crowd screaming for encores.

In between, the crowd was entertained by Lehigh’s Finest step team, whose footsteps echoed throughout the courtyard, the cheerleaders, the Chinese Yo-yo Club, and the LU Dance Team. Brett Reed, the Murray H. Goodman ’48 Head Men’s Basketball Coach, came out to encourage students to show their spirit not only at Lehigh-Lafayette, but at basketball games, too.

Boston indie rock sensations State Radio pump up the Lehigh-Laf-a-palooza crowd.

Wojciechowski said the palooza will be a bi-annual event. When the Lehigh-Lafayette game is at home, there will be a bonfire. When the game is at Lafayette, as it is this year, there will be a palooza.

“There is no typical Lehigh student, everyone is different, but the one thing we have in common is school spirit,” Wojciechoski said. “We have to nurture it and keep it going.”

Steve Bialick ’10, secretary for the Association of Student Alumni (ASA), said there needed to be an event the entire student body could attend to provide spirit for Saturday.

“Without school spirit we wouldn’t be as unified,” Bialick said. “This week we are all about Lehigh-Lafayette.”

Many of the students said they especially liked the location for palooza.

“The palooza has a really good turnout,” Fraser said. “I am glad that it is on this campus rather than on Goodman.”

Rob Cant ’09 agreed. “This was a great use of one of our outdoor areas,” he said. “It is accessible for both on-campus and off-campus students.”

The palooza was co-sponsored by ASA and University Productions.

--Lauren Martiello ‘09

Photos by Douglas Benedict

Posted on Thursday, November 20, 2008

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