Lehigh has long been known for its outstanding academic reputation. But, these days, Lehigh athletics is also attracting student-athletes from coast to coast.
Currently, Lehigh student-athletes represent 37 states and that number seems to increase each year.
Greg Strobel, Lehigh’s wrestling coach, believes that there are two main reasons why Lehigh can go after student-athletes from across the Unites States.
“The success of our alumni speaks for itself," Strobel says. "After receiving a top-notch education on the East Coast at Lehigh and going on to do some great things, the word has gotten out about our tremendous educational opportunities here.”
“The second reason that we can attract the best is due to our success on the mat," he continues. "When I started here, we had to sell the past, but now we are able to sell the present and the future. We are caught in a niche between the Ivy League schools and the Big Ten schools in that we offer an Ivy education with the wrestling of a Big Ten institution, so we can offer the best of both worlds to our student-athletes.”
A big family
Coming to Lehigh from Shawnee, Okla., Jana Ransom, now a senior on the women’s basketball team, says the family atmosphere on the team influenced her decision to attend Lehigh.
“I really liked the school when I visited here, says Ransom, a marketing major who sports a 3.05 grade point average. "The coaches and members of the team were like a big family, always hanging out and that was ideal for me.”
“I wanted to come to a good academic school and have a chance to play right away, which Lehigh offered, so this was the place for me,” she adds.
Sophomore Mike Fischman, a center on the men’s basketball team, came to Lehigh from Cooper City, Fla.
“Well, I definitely did not choose Lehigh for the weather,” Fischman jokes. “But, I really liked the size of the school because I did not want to go somwhere with 40,000 students, so Lehigh was perfect in that sense.”
“The educational opportunities at Lehigh were a deciding factor along with the chance to play at a Patriot League school," says Fischman, a business major. "Finally, the coaches are so young that they can relate to what we are going through as players. They always make us feel comfortable, no matter the situation.”
A stellar academic reputation
Head women’s soccer coach Manny Oudin fields a team that is made up of players from 11 different states. The reason, he says, is that students are naturally drawn to the school's tremendous academic reputation.
“Due to the popularity of women’s soccer, there is not one hotbed in a certain part of the country, as there may be with other sports," Oudin says. "Women’s soccer is extremely popular across the country and that aids us in recruiting.”
“Lehigh has such a wonderful academic reputation and it is documented worldwide, that I don’t have to sell that aspect – it sells itself," he says. “If there is a kid from the Midwest or West Coast who has the academic requirements and is looking for a different experience, Lehigh may be the place for them to get that.”
Sophomore Erin Hengemuhle, an outfielder on the softball team with a 3.05 GPA in Arts and Sciences, came to Lehigh from Boulder, Col.
“I visited the campus in the fall when all of the leaves had changed and it was just gorgeous," she recalls. "I also like the East Coast a lot so that definitely helped swing my decision.”
“The success on the field that the softball team has had and the way that Coach Troyan and members of the team made me feel right at home made it an easy decision to choose Lehigh," Hengemuhle adds. "Everyone was so nice and courteous towards me, I just couldn’t pass it up.”
Lehigh will always be known for its academics, but with coaches like Manny Oudin and Greg Strobel attracting student-athletes like Jana Ransom and Mike Fischman, Lehigh athletics is fast on the path to establishing a name that will be known across the country as well.
Posted on Monday, February 16, 2004