Lafayette Dedicates Bourger Varsity Football House In Style
June 1, 2007
EASTON, Pa. - Dedication ceremonies for the Bourger Varsity Football House were held tonight as a part of Lafayette's Reunion Weekend. The opening of the 24,000-square-foot varsity house at the west end of Fisher Field completes the transformation of Lafayette's football facilities into the state-of-the-art Fisher Stadium.
The building's name recognizes the special generosity of John T. (Jack) Bourger '71 and Selena Vanderwerf. They have named the facility in loving memory of both Jack's parents and in appreciation for the unstinting support and encouragement that father Eugene J. (Mike) '44 (1922-2004) and mother Ruth P'71 (1922-2005) provided to Jack when he was a member of Lafayette's varsity football squad.
"My parents loved their church, neighbors, Lafayette College and Lafayette football," Bourger told the crowd. "Lafayette football was a lifetime of friendships to them. My dad by his own account saw 60 Lafayette-Lehigh games. It was the Lafayette friendships that sustained them through their later years."
"I went to Frank (Tavani) after a game and said I've seen this building at the end of the west end zone. Frank said how he envisioned that same building. Today, that dream has become a reality."
In addition to featuring a spacious lobby and reception area, the first floor of the Bourger Varsity Football House contains the team's locker room, strength and conditioning areas, and sports medicine facilities, including a hydrotherapy room. The upper level houses coaches' offices, a gallery with displays honoring "Legends of Lafayette Football," and several meeting rooms, one of which is large enough to accommodate the entire team. That area, which can also be divided into four separate units, features audio-visual capabilities that match those in the "smart classrooms" in the College's academic buildings.
"What does this mean to the campus?" asked an at-times choked-up Coach Tavani. "It means we now have the finest facility in the country at any level bar none, and it's something we can all be proud of."
The dedication ceremony also honored several dozen other alumni and friends who supported the construction of the football house. It began with a welcome from Edward W. Ahart '69, chair of the Board of Trustees Committee on Athletics and Student Affairs, and included remarks by Jack Bourger, Lafayette President Daniel Weiss; Frank Tavani, head football coach; and Marcel Quarterman'08, an economics and business major from Philadelphia and a co-captain of the 2007 football team.
"When we practiced in the fall and spring, the construction site was in the background coming to form day in and day out," Quarterman said. "Each day our anticipation heightened. And now, it will be an honor as a senior to utilize these great facilities. We finally have a place to call our home. And I say home because that is what this will be, our home and a home of champions for the years to come."
Lafayette President Dan Weiss thanked many of the key donors involved. Some have their names enshrined on various rooms in the building, while others have lockers bearing their names, or those they wish to honor, in the new locker rooms.
"It is clear how important this event is to the team, coaches, and to all of us," President Weiss remarked. "This was extraordinarily collaborative and long coming. Ten years ago, we had one of the poorest facilities and now we have one of the finest in the country."
In 2005 Jack Bourger and Selena Vanderwerf paid a very generous and heartfelt tribute to Mike Bourger by naming Lafayette's renovated varsity soccer field in his memory. Mike Bourger '44 Field at Oaks Stadium recognizes the elder Bourger's lifelong loyalty to Lafayette soccer and his important contributions to the team as a player and captain.
Mike and Ruth Bourger were present at the dedication of the Pfenning Alumni Center on Sept. 14, 2002, when their 50th wedding anniversary was honored by Jack and Selena through the naming of the Bourger Plaza overlooking Fisher Field.
Jack Bourger was a Lafayette trustee from 1988 to 1993, a member of the Lafayette Leadership Council from 1998 to 2001, and currently serves as an alumni associate member of the Committee on Grounds and Buildings. He has held leadership positions with the Alumni Council and Maroon Club and is president of the Friends of Lafayette Football.
Jack Bourger and Selena Vanderwerf are Sustaining Members of the Marquis Society and were inducted into the Society d'Honneur on 2001. They have hosted picnics for incoming students at their home in New Jersey and have also welcomed Lafayette alumni and friends to their home in Florida.
Joining Jack Bourger, Selena Vanderwerf, and the Brenda Blythe Trust as principal contributors to the comprehensive Fisher Stadium project are James R. '77 and Tracey Fisher and the F.M. Kirby Foundation, Inc. The $23 million project - which began in 2006 with the installation of a FieldTurf in-fill synthetic playing surface and a large video scoreboard, as well as improved seating and other amenities - consolidates all of the College's football operations on the main campus after many decades during which the program's practice facilities were located at the Metzgar Fields Athletic Campus in Forks Township.
Bourger Varsity Football House was designed by Concord Architects, Concord, Mass. The construction manager is Turner Construction Co., Philadelphia. Clough Harbour & Associates, Albany, N.Y., provided engineering and planning services. The project manager was NorthStar Advisors, Ardmore, Pa.