BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh Athletics is excited to embark upon a celebration of 50 years of women’s sports at Lehigh over the next year and a half, culminating in the spring of 2024. Our celebration follows the 50th anniversary of women at Lehigh in the Fall of 2021.
The first two women’s sports at Lehigh, Field Hockey and Swimming, began in the 1973-74 academic year, two years after women were first admitted to the university. As such, we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of those two programs and the beginning of Lehigh women’s sports in the Fall of 2023.
The 50th year since the passage of Title IX in 1972 was this past summer (June of 2022). As part of this celebration, the Patriot League will be honoring five selected “Trailblazers” from each of the ten league member institutions. Given the juxtaposition of the 50th anniversary of Title IX with the 50th anniversary of Women’s sports at Lehigh, we are choosing to celebrate our history in women’s sports over the next 18 months. This will include the honoring of our “Trailblazers,” Karen Adams, Cathy Engelbert, Gina Lewandowski, Bridget O’Connell and Lisa Sweeney Van Ackeren this year.
We believe this is an important time period to honor the many women (and men) who have helped create, sustain and improve these opportunities for women, to celebrate those women who have been a part of our athletics history, and to imagine what’s in front of us. We also see this as an important opportunity to promote engagement by our alumni with our women’s programs of today, in the forms of storytelling, mentoring (about career life or sports) and philanthropic support.
As we embark on celebrating the 50 years of women’s sports at Lehigh, we are also looking forward to projecting what the next 50 years can look like for our future athletes.