Remember Steck Challenge

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$11,518
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This campaign was funded on March 28, 2024!
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An Anonymous DonorKendall O'Brien matched $100 for each donor, donating a total of $10,000
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An Anonymous DonorRick Baggelaar '67 gave $250 because 60 donors gaveJust for Class of 1967 Scholarship Fund

An Anonymous DonorPeter Ciampa '67 gave $250 because 80 donors gaveJust for Class of 1967 Scholarship Fund

An Anonymous DonorBill Cavanagh '67 gave $500 because 40 donors gaveJust for Class of 1967 Scholarship Fund

An Anonymous DonorD'Arcy Roper '67 gave $500 because 60 donors gaveJust for Class of 1967 Scholarship Fund

An Anonymous DonorMike Caruso '67 gave $1,000 because 100 donors gaveJust for Class of 1967 Scholarship Fund

An Anonymous DonorTony Narducci '67 gave $1,000 because 100 donors gaveJust for Class of 1967 Scholarship Fund

An Anonymous DonorChuck Kleintop '67 gave $1,000 because 80 donors gaveJust for Class of 1967 Scholarship Fund
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40 donations will release a $500 gift by Bill Cavanagh. 

60 donations will release $750, $250 by Rick Baggelaar+ $500 by D’Arcy Roper. 

80 donations will release $1,250, $250 by Peter Ciampa + $1,000 by Chuck Kleintop. 

100 donations will release $2,000, $1,000 by Mike Caruso + $1,000 by Tony Narducci.


Scroll Down for more about Steck

John Stohler “Steck” Steckbeck

Assistant Professor of Physical Education

Director of Intramurals and Recreation

1955-1959 --- 1962- 1979

 Steck was a self-proclaimed “Lehigh University Man” who consistently demonstrated his love for Lehigh.  President Deming Lewis described him as “a rare and marvelous person who not only did his own job very well, but added also a contagious energy and enthusiasm to everything he did.” The Brown and White wrote at the time of his death in 1979, “He was a one-man institution, a man whose very life was woven into the brown and white fabric of Lehigh University.” and he was a “friend of every Lehigh undergraduate.” He welcomed freshmen, honored seniors, sang, danced, and ran around the country for the Alumni Association.  Dubbed “Mr. Spirit”, he organized and led the annual Freshman Rally, nee the Smoker; orchestrated the festivities that preceded the Lafayette football game to include the pep rally, bonfire and pajama parade across Fahy Bridge, nee New Street Bridge, to serenade the Moravian co-eds; sponsored the Cheerleaders; and organized the annual Flagpole Day where numerous athletic and honorary awards and the All-University Intramural Championship Trophy were presented. He made time to assist the Interfraternity Council and in 1966 agreed to be the Faculty Advisor for Beta Theta Pi. The IFC referred to Steck as “a vibrant, active, father figure.” In 1980the IFC  inaugurated the John Steckbeck Runathon as a tribute to him calling him a legend who gave the better part of his life to the University and to helping others, especially students. His involvement with and actions to assist students caused them “to look to him as an inspiration; hoping that one day we, too, will be able to give as much of ourselves to this University.” One student leader said that without Steck apathy on this campus would be prevalent. Steck makes you feel like you belong to the University. 

In 1955 Steck came to Lehigh from Dickinson College where he served as and Intramurals Coach and Head Coach for the Track and Field and Swimming Teams for nine years.  He graduated from West Chester College in 1936 and served as director of physical education at Packerton High School, Lehighton; Henry Houck School, Lebanan; and Carlisle High School prior to his stint at Dickinson. He held a Master of Science Degree in Physical Education from the University of Pennsylvania and completed graduate courses at Lehigh, Penn State, and Yale. He was short only a few credit hours from  meeting the requirements for a PhD in Physical Education. In 1959 he took a leave of absence from Lehigh to teach and coach at Liberty High School in Bethlehem. He returned to Lehigh in 1962 and served continuously until his retirement in 1979.

He began his Lehigh Career as Assistant Professor of Physical Education, Coach of Swimming, Track, and Cross Country. Within a year,he added the title of Director of Intramural Sports to his resume. Freshmen were required to take Physical Education in the 50s and 60s, and you had to know how to swim to pass Phys. Ed. Every class matriculated a few students who were non-swimmers, and some were petrified of the water. When the regular instructors were unsuccessful with non-swimmers, Steck would close the pool and in private personally teach them to swim. Additionally, he held free Saturday morning swimming lessons for faculty children. In 1967 he was named the “outstanding physical fitness leader in Bethlehem by the Bethlehem Jaycees. He was revered and loved by the thousands of students who passed through his physical education program. He was idolized by those who sweated through his “Lehigh conditioner” and loved every minute of it.

When Steck arrived, there were six intramural sports. When he retired in 1979, there were 43. The program, because of the variety of sports and the level of participation among the students, was reputed as being one the best IM programs in the nation! Steck started the Turkey Trot in 1957 with over 500 participants. By 1967 it had grown to more than 640. It is still a popular event today. He created Lehigh’s unbelievable IM wrestling tournament which in 1966 had over 700 participants competing in 17 weight classes.  He coined the tournament finals “Fite Night”. The All-University Wrestling Championship Trophy was highly coveted, and Fite Night matches were extremely competitive. It was not unusual for a former high school state champion to lose on Fite Night! Steck called it “the largest and most active intramural wrestling program in the nation.” 

An extremely talented man, Steck was a published author, noted orator, and gifted singer. He had a beautiful Baritone voice. He sang with the Bethlehem Bach Choir. He often sang the National Anthem at football games and the Alma Mater at commencements. Additionally, he performed as a featured soloist with the Lehigh University Concert Band and Glee Club. He authored “The Fabulous Redmen” about Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indians. His leather-bound book was widely read. As a result, he was considered the expert of the country on Jim Thorpe, inducted into the American Indian Sports Hall of Fame, and made an honorary member (blood brother) of the Ogallala Sioux Tribe. He had a vast collection of sports pictures and lectured on the history of sports supplementing his lectures with his pictures.  He was constantly in demand to speak at civic events and high school commencements on Thorpe or sports history. 

His accolades are too numerable to enumerate, but among them are membership in Omicron Delta Kappa, being listed in Who’s Who in American Education, and receiving the Christian & Mary Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching from Lehigh. He was also recognized by the New York Touchdown Club and Harrisburg Sports Writers Association. Additionally, Lehigh honored him by naming the outstanding first-year female athlete award the John S. Steckbeck Award. He was inducted into the Roger S. Pensky, Lehigh Athletics Hall of Fame in 1993.

Check out these stories from the 1979 Alumni Bulletin  and the 1967 Epitome to read more about Steck and see some fantastic pictures.

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