Tigers’ Pop-Pop is more than a fan
Northwestern Lehigh is known for having a supportive fan base. In the days before the pandemic, the stands were always full and the booster clubs were active and provided another layer of support for the teams and individual players.
Now, as fans are limited at games and the booster clubs, without the financial stream that they usually have from concession stands and other events, continue to do as much as possible to support the athletic program.
Possibly the best-known member of the Northwestern Lehigh field hockey fan base is Ernest Hahn, although most of the field hockey players might not even know his real name. To them, Ernest Hahn is simply “Pop-Pop.” The 92-year-old can be found at most field hockey games cheering on the team, which he has been doing since his oldest great granddaughter, Courtney Page started playing field hockey years back. His support has continued as two more great-granddaughters - Taylor and Brooke Page - have come through the Northwestern Lehigh field hockey program.
“I’ve been coming to games for a long time now,” said Hahn after he watched Brooke and this year’s team grab their second straight District 11 championship at Whitehall High School. “I enjoy watching them play.”
Hahn is not just there for the games, but takes a much more active role in supporting the team and its players. It started with buying a Northwestern Lehigh Field Hockey magnet for each member of the high school and middle school teams while Courtney, who graduated in 2017, was playing at the varsity level and Taylor was playing on the middle school team.
Pop-Pop also provided strawberries and grapes for the players when they would travel for road games, since many times they had not had dinner and would get home late. At other times, he would be sure to be there to hand out snacks that the booster parents provided and would often add a little something extra to the bags of goodies.
“He would even set up a table to hand out the snacks,” said his granddaughter, Christina Page. “He also bought his own snacks to add to bags that the boosters provided. Mostly candy.”
In addition to providing magnets and snacks, Hahn has had other ideas to help the team and its fans. Tiger head coach Lissa Opolsky provided Hahn with the team roster, which he copied and had laminated to give to parents and fans. That way, everyone would know who was on the team and what number they wore. When the team held a fundraiser and sold yard signs with a player’s name and number, Hahn put his to good use, bringing it to games.
“I always like to bring this,” said Pop-Pop, pointing to his sign. “It just lets people know who I’m cheering for and how proud I am.”
Hahn spends time at the games speaking with everyone around him and is known for his sense of humor. Like Hahn’s own family, the Lister family has had three daughters (Leighanna, Ali and Daniella) who all played field hockey. Leighanna played with Courtney, the eldest of the Page sisters, while Ali and Daniella were teammates with Brooke Page this past season. Pop-Pop simply refers them as a “Lister sister.”
This past season was the first varsity season for freshman Brooke Page and she noted that having her great-grandfather be in the stands for her games was nothing new.
“It’s really great to look up and see him there with his sign and knowing how supportive he is of all of us,” said Brooke midway through the season. “He’s always been supportive of us no matter what we do and it’s great to have him at games.”