A large part of many colleges are the countless amounts of athletic games that occur throughout the school year. As a former athlete and someone who has developed close friendships with athletes across all of Lehigh’s sports programs, I believe school spirit is an important factor that not only unifies a college as a whole, but also motivates athletes to play harder for the school that they stand for. I’ve unfortunately come to realize that the bleachers at Lehigh sports stadiums are not as filled as they should be. And although I haven’t been to every single sports game, I love going whenever I have the chance.
Aside from home games, it’s even harder to get a group of people to travel for an away game—or so I thought. Julianne D’Orazio, a good friend of mine and a member of the women’s lacrosse team at Lehigh, reached out to me about a Lehigh vs. University of Pennsylvania football game, where Lehigh would provide a free bus and tickets if we could get 40 people to go. Of course, I was interested and within that week there were around 40 other people who were interested as well.
The way the process worked was that D’Orazio contacted Rich Haas, the Assistant Athletic Director for Sales and Marketing for Lehigh Sports, asking if there was any way he could assist her in coordinating a student bus to travel to and from Upenn to support the football game. He agreed and to her surprise, he kindly provided the tickets and the bus for Lehigh students. She then contacted a handful of people, myself included, and those people reached out to others in hopes of filling the bus. With everyone’s help, we were able to gather around 40 people (yay)!
For the most part, the overall road trip ran pretty smoothly. To get things organized, D’Orazio and a couple other lacrosse girls created a GroupMe with everyone who was going on the bus trip. We were given the details, like when the bus would leave, where we should meet, etc. The game was set to start at 5 p.m., so we were told to meet at Taylor Gym around 2:30 p.m. for a 2:45 p.m. departure. We left on-time and arrived around an hour and a half later, luckily with some time to spare. We used that time to go to Smokey Joe’s, one of the most well-known bars in the area, and enjoyed some appetizers and drinks before the start of the game (me and a friend shared a small plain pizza and it was delicious). One of my best friends from high school who goes to Upenn was able to meet up with me at Smokey Joe’s, and then she guided a group of us to the football stadium. Without her help, it would have been pretty difficult to find the stadium on our own because it was a 15-minute walk from Smokey Joe’s and we were unfamiliar with the area.
After entering the stadium, we located the Lehigh section and sat as a group to show our school spirit. Almost everyone was wearing Lehigh gear (or brown and white), and the Lehigh section was filled with students and family and friends of the players. Even better, the Lehigh section was filled even more than Upenn’s section (go Hawks)!
Prior to this football game, Lehigh had played two games (against Monmouth University and Villanova University) and had lost both in a very tight battle. In the first half of the Upenn game it was a close battle, which made the game very exciting. It was touchdown after touchdown, with a final touchdown by Lehigh quarterback Nick Shafnisky, who tied the game at 28-28. With a large and loud crowd, we were confident that the team could get that W—which they did! After the first half, Lehigh dominated Upenn with a 21-0 lead and a final score of 49-28.
Upenn’s stadium had a lot to offer food wise. I was able to go to the concession stand during half time (which was located inside of the stadium) and got a turkey sandwich, but there were other things like chicken fingers, smoothies, wraps, etc. The only downfall about the stadium was that after Lehigh won, we weren’t allowed to storm the field (still got a selfie with my friends though).
Leaving the stadium was definitely more difficult than the departure. We had to wait about 30 minutes after the game to find the bus driver and once we found the bus driver we followed her for an extra 10-15 more minutes to find the bus (which was parked far from the stadium). Before we left, we had to make sure that everyone was on the bus and unsurprisingly we were missing a couple of people. With all of this time being wasted, we left later than we should have and arrived on campus around 10 p.m. In the future, it would have been easier if the bus driver was able to meet us outside of the stadium (because that’s where everyone was waiting).
All in all, it was a great day to be a Hawk and I look forward to going to more games!