Students enjoy competitive football tradition on Thanksgiving

By Jessie Solomon and Arthur Varner

This past Thanksgiving morning, 24 students met up at the River Falls Community Club to play football in senior Mitch Fechter’s annual Turkey Bowl.

Fechter has organized this event for the past seven years. After playing pickup football with friends in his neighborhood, Fechter decided to organize a more competitive game once a year, he said. Originally, the group was comprised of 16 players, but it has grown to four teams of six players each.

“It was a lot of fun to play pickup, but we wanted one higher stakes thing a year,” Fechter said. “We thought Thanksgiving and football go together pretty well, so we decided to have a big tournament every year on Thanksgiving.”

Designated captains select their teams in a draft prior to the event. This year’s captains were Fechter, senior Bram Wallach, senior Jack Farren and Landon School senior Ryan Fruehwirth.

The majority of players are seniors, but a handful of students from other grade levels also competed, including one junior, one sophomore and two Whitman alumni: Dawson Mackay (‘17) and Mason Robinson (‘17).

Junior Greg Shaffer said he looks forward to the Turkey Bowl every year, seeing it as an opportunity to prove himself worthy to the older players.

“I think being one of the youngest people in the league just adds a little more thrill for myself,” Shaffer said. “It makes me feel like I need to try a little harder for being able to compete with them.”

Even though the winning team’s prize can be as simple as a bag of jelly beans, the level of competition runs high for the Turkey Bowl. It’s also a prime opportunity for students to come together and bond.

“Thanksgiving is all about friends, and during the Turkey Bowl we get really mad at each other,” Fechter said. “But when it’s all done, it’s all fun and we make fun of each other. It’s a real bonding thing.”

After a long day of pulling flags and throwing passes, Farren’s team came out with the victory. Although bonding is a significant aspect of the tournament, cutthroat excitement is always present.

“My favorite part of playing is the competitiveness,” Farren said. “Everyone gets really into it, and it makes it much more fun to compete in.”

Even though the majority of the players are seniors, many of them have plans to return home next year and continue the Turkey Bowl tradition, Fechter and Farren said.

“It’s just a lot of fun to get together with friends once a year and just play football for a couple hours,” Shaffer said.