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The dreams of Lafayette football supporters from all ranks – coaches, players, alumni, and others – came true tonight with the unveiling of the Bourger Varsity Football House.

In one of the key events of this year’s Reunion Weekend, dignitaries spanning the Lafayette community came together for an emotional ceremony that marked the dedication of the facility at the west end of Fisher Field. The $23 million project, begun in 2006 with the installation of Field Turf, the Jumbotron, and other amenities at the field, gives Lafayette first-class facilities to match its booming football program, coming off a Patriot League championship season and third straight NCAA playoff appearance.

“What does this mean to the campus?” asked an at-times choked-up head coach Frank 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.”

Named in honor of the generosity of Leopard football great John T. “Jack” Bourger ’71 and Selena Vanderwerf, the two floors of the facility boast a dazzling array of cutting-edge features.

The first floor 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 a display honoring “The Legends of Lafayette Football” and several meeting rooms, each named for donors who made the building possible.

Given the opportunity to discuss his contribution to the field house, Bourger instead chose to talk about his parents, Eugene J. “Mike” Bourger ’44 (1922-2004), a Lafayette soccer standout and baseball player, and Ruth Bourger (1922-2005).

The elder Bourgers were not only staunch supporters of their son’s football ambitions, but also the Lafayette program as a whole, attending most home and away games for more than 50 years. The warmth and closeness of the Lafayette community made them continue to come back, even when their health began to slip and they watched games from what Jack Bourger called his “luxury box” by the third-floor windows of the Allan P. Kirby Sports Center.

“It was those Lafayette friendships that sustained them through those years,” he said.

In fact, it was in 2001, a down year for the football program, that Bourger and Tavani first dreamed up the idea for the field house. Turns out, he and Tavani had the same vision.

“I remember looking to the left and thinking there was something missing in that stadium,” Bourger said. “Today that dream is a reality.”

Among the direct beneficiaries will be Marcel J. Quarterman ’08, co-captain of the 2007 team. Quarterman said he looks forward to no longer having to travel by bus down Sullivan Trail to Metzgar Field for practice.

“It’s going to be ours to use and the home of champions for years to come,” he said while acknowledging the donors who made the project a success. “With that kind of support you have no choice but to become champions.”

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.

“We had arguably the poorest facility of its kind 10 years ago, and now we have the finest,” said Weiss, who jokingly said he would claim an office next to Tavani and appointed himself offensive coordinator of the team. Turning to Bourger and Vanderwerf, he said, “Jack and Selena, we are deeply grateful to the both of you for your devotion to the College and to Lafayette football.”

Joining the couple as the main financial supporters of the comprehensive stadium project were James R. ’77 and Tracey Fisher and the F.M. Kirby Foundation, represented at the ceremony by Fred Morgan Kirby II ’42, whom Bourger credited with insisting that the football field be moved to ensure excellent sight lines for all spectators in the stadium, and S. Dillard Kirby ’81.

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