By Stella Katsipoutis-Varkanis

Excitement is electrifying the air as the kickoff to the 2022 college football season draws near. And on Aug. 17, Lafayette surprised the Easton community with a ticket giveaway event to spread College pride and rally local support ahead of the Sept. 3 home opener against Sacred Heart University. 

Lafayette President Nicole Farmer Hurd, Director of Athletics Sherryta Freeman, Fred M. Kirby II ’42 Head Football Coach John Troxell ’94, Ticket Promotions Manager Billie Weiss, Director of Athletic Development Josh Azer, members of the football team, and the Leopard were all smiles as they hopped on a shuttle bus and made surprise visits to businesses throughout the Easton area—including College Hill, Downtown Easton, and Forks Township. They showered local merchants and their customers with not only free tickets to the opening game, but also free Lafayette swag—including Leopards jerseys, posters, and more.

Lafayette College President Nicole Hurd, head football coach John Troxell, football team members, and Leopards mascot standing in front of the entrance to the Easton mayor's office building

(From left to right) President Nicole Farmer Hurd, Head Football Coach John Troxell, linebacker Jyaire Stevens ’23, Ticket and Promotions Manager Billie Weiss, the Leopard, Athletics Director Sherryta Freeman, football co-captain Malik Hamm ’23, Director of Athletic Development Josh Azer, football co-captain Marco Olivas ’23, and running back Nahjee Adams ’25 pose in front of Easton’s City Hall

The event—which was organized by the President’s Office and Lafayette College Athletics—is part of a larger initiative spearheaded by President Hurd to strengthen the bond and fellowship between Lafayette and the greater Easton community.

“Lafayette is a place where we say ‘and’ in a world that says ‘or,’ and this is one of those beautiful moments when we’re wrapping our arms around Easton and celebrating campus and community,” Hurd says. “There’s nothing better than hugging our local vendors, saying hi to our neighbors, and welcoming them into our football program. This is our home, and we are excited to be a part of it in a vibrant way. And Lafayette is home for our community members as well. We are all one family, one community, and it’s time to shine together.”

The football players—which included co-captains Malik Hamm ’23 and Marco Olivas ’23, running back Nahjee Adams ’25, and linebacker Jyaire Stevens ’23—also were eager to give back to the city that helps them succeed both on and off the field.

Lafayette football players Marco Olivas, Malik Hamm, Nahjee Adams, and Jyaire Stevens surprising the owner of Just a Dream frozen yogurt shop with a Lafayette jersey

Lafayette football players Marco Olivas ’23, Nahjee Adams ’25, Malik Hamm ’23, and Jyaire Stevens ’23 helped surprise businesses and community members throughout Easton, like Just a Dream frozen yogurt shop, with free Lafayette football tickets and jerseys

“Lafayette is part of the Easton community as a whole, and we want to continue to bridge the gap and bring us closer together,” says Hamm. “Events like this are a great opportunity to explore the community, get to know the people who own businesses here, and have a good time.”

“It was nice for me to come out with my teammates and my coach to lift up the spirits of the city and get them excited for the upcoming season,” adds Adams. “I’m homegrown, I’m from Easton, and this is a full circle moment.” 

Restaurants (Third and Ferry, The GOAT Pub & Pie, Mesa Modern Mexican Restaurant, Mario’s, and Sette Luna), ice cream shops (Owowcow, Bank Street Creamery, Just a Dream), pizzerias (Picasso’s, Antonio’s), businesses (Barbershop Plus, NuHouse), and even Easton Mayor Sal Panto Jr.’s office were just a few of the stops on the giveaway crew’s extensive itinerary. Business owners, patrons, and the mayor alike enthusiastically shared their eagerness to support Lafayette both at home and at the stadium. 

“I’ll be at most of the games,” Panto says. “It’s going to be really great ball. I really enjoy the partnership we have with Lafayette; they’re a great organization and a great institution.” 

Lafayette College President Nicole Hurd, head football coach John Troxell, football team members, and Leopards mascot posing with Sal Panto, mayor of the city of Easton

The Lafayette football ticket giveaway crew smiles for the camera with Easton Mayor Sal Panto Jr.

“We love to support anything that has to do with Lafayette College and Easton,” adds Kristine Islas, general manager of Mesa Modern Mexican Restaurant. “We like to keep everything local. We get a lot of Lafayette students, and we enjoy their company. And we love football. Go Leopards!”

Adele Lukachek, co-owner of NuHouse wellness center in Downtown Easton, expressed how important it is to uplift today’s younger generations. “If we can optimize them, and bring them into our home and make them feel loved and appreciated, then they’re going to perform at a greater level in anything—sports, academics—and they’ll be a great beam of light going forward. And that’s what we’re all about here; we’re about light in the community.”

Freeman says the football team is a group of talented young men who work hard daily, and they thrive on being cheered on by the community. “They love the support of our student population, faculty, staff, and the residents of Easton and the greater Lehigh Valley,” she says. “The fans make a difference. When our players look up and see the stands full of people, it impacts the results on the field.”

And with newly appointed Head Coach Troxell leading the charge, the 2022 football season promises to be an exciting one. “It’s a new adventure. It’s a new group and new leadership. The players are looking forward to the season, and this is my first year back in the area. I’m excited,” says Troxell, a Phillipsburg native who not only graduated from Lafayette, but also served as assistant coach at the College from 2001 to 2005. “We’re looking to have a lot of success.”

The giveaway was covered by WFMZ-TV (watch the news segment).

Check out more photos and watch a video from the exciting day below.

Save the Date

Lafayette Football 2022 Home Opener

Lafayette football will kick off its 2022 season with the home opener against Sacred Heart University on Sept. 3. Community/Youth Day will also be celebrated at the game: All youth sports athletes wearing their team jerseys/uniforms will receive free admission. The event will also feature a KIDZone, where youth can go to get a temporary Leopard tattoo and participate in a coloring contest.

Get more information about Lafayette football and other sports
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