As Pensacola Christian College students and guests made their way to Eagle Field, epic music played over the loudspeakers. After finding their place and drying seats on the bleachers, students quickly settled in for the double-header. These fans were ready to cheer on members of either competing team—their friends, classmates, and fellow collegian members—despite the mild rainy weather. This was the ultimate soccer game. This was the 48th Turkey Bowl, where the top men’s and women’s collegian teams went head-to-head for the championship title.
Zeta Nu Gators vs. Zeta Delta Dolphins
For the women’s game, students came out to see the defending champions Zeta Delta Dolphins take on the Zeta Nu Gators. While the Gators have won the soccer championship 10 times since the first Turkey Bowl, they hadn’t qualified in a few years. “This is the first time that the Gators have advanced into the Turkey Bowl since I’ve been a student,” said Paiton Hollowood (Jr., MI), Gators athletic director.
The Dolphins have won 8 soccer championships, including the last 2 in a row. “We made it to Turkey Bowl last year, which was my freshman year, and that was an experience for sure,” commented Daniela Gamboa Adame (So., NY), Dolphins soccer coach. “The path we had toward Turkey Bowl and the team camaraderie was unmatchable. I was really missing playing soccer and I was glad I found that in my collegian.”
“From freshmen to seniors, all the girls have come out and supported us from day one.”
By halftime, the Gators were in the lead 1–0, but the Dolphins quickly came back in the second half, winning the championship game for the third year in a row with a final score of 2–1. “After the championship concluded, my team and I were so excited to have secured another victory,” said Madison Burkholder (Sr., TX), Dolphins center forward. “We had to work extra hard due to our starting back line being out of the game, and everyone had to play a position they were not used to.”
Abigail Corcimiglia (So., NY), a goalkeeper who had traded out and scored the winning goal, was glad to celebrate the win with her team. “We were ecstatic. The beginning of the game was rough for us so I thought it might not end well, but we managed to win despite that,” she shared. “I’m hoping to go again next year and bring back another championship for the Dolphins.”
In spite of the loss, the Gators were glad to participate in Turkey Bowl. “I am beyond proud to call this collegian my own,” said Reagan Southwick (Sr., MI), Gators collegian president and right forward on the team. “From freshmen to seniors, all the girls have come out and supported us from day one. To be a Gator is to be a member of the most supportive and loving community. I couldn’t be more grateful.”
Competition at Halftime
As the crowds took advantage of the break between games, some students quickly made their way to the food trucks parked by the Visual and Performing Arts building, Coffee Cabin Co. and Greek’s Catering and Events. Meanwhile, a special group approached the field for the halftime show—select PCC staff and faculty members teamed up for an anticipated competition. The soccer game, which held 8-minute halves, featured familiar “athletes” such as Dr. Greg Mutsch, Dr. Dale Adkins, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Dr. Brad Phillips, Mr. Mark Ward, and Mr. Isaac Robertson.
“It was fun to watch our teachers play out there.”
As Mr. Drew Fennell and Mr. Kenn Winn shared light commentary over the game, student audiences cheered loudly and watched each player’s every move on the field. In this high-energy game, both sides quickly scored goals, thanks to Mr. Garret Ordway, Mr. Mateo Canada, and Coach Joe Liwosz. Before the end of the game, both Dr. Mutsch and Dr. Adkins made their way on the field, welcomed by loud cheers. The match kept audiences on the edge of their seats, reaching a 3–3 tie with little time left. Before the end, the PCC staff team scored a final goal, finishing the game in the lead at 4–3.
This year’s halftime was a favorite among students, with many coming out to cheer the teams on. “[I loved] the halftime show and the commentary that they were doing,” shared Jimena Vicente-Chilel (So., NC). “It was fun to watch our teachers play out there. It would be cool if they had that next year too.” Having been introduced as two teams with “0 wins and 0 losses,” perhaps the PCC staff and faculty have formed a new rivalry—staff eager to keep up their winning streak, and faculty itching to tie up the stats.
Beta Kappa Hornets vs. Pi Zeta Wolverines
At the men’s game, defending champions Beta Kappa Hornets, who have earned the title 8 times, faced the Pi Zeta Wolverines, a team eager to earn their first championship win.
Right from the get-go, the game quickly showed how intent both teams were to establish a lead. The first half of the game didn’t see a goal until the Wolverines right midfielder, Jack Miller (Sr., NJ), scored from a penalty kick with less than 5 minutes left on the clock. Throughout the game, a light drizzle fell intermittently, but the energy stayed high. Both teams continued to fight for the win, but neither team managed to break the other’s defense again after Wolverines left forward Cole Dabelow (Fr., IN) scored another point in the second half. This Wolverines team made history, winning 2–0 against the Hornets and earning their first-ever soccer championship title at Turkey Bowl.
“To watch the two top collegian teams, cheer on my friends, and be in an exciting atmosphere is thrilling for me.”
Caleb Welch (Jr., IN), the Wolverines coach, has been wanting to see his team win the championship for three years. “Our team hasn’t seen the Turkey Bowl since I’ve been a student, which has been a huge motivation for the team as a whole this year,” he explained. “Our theme for our collegian has pervaded our team this year, which is brotherhood. We’ve emphasized coming together and playing for each other to see success on the field.”
For Ethan Price (Sr., IN), Wolverines collegian president and the goalkeeper, Turkey Bowl was a welcome time to gather for a championship game where friends could be on both teams. “The Turkey Bowl has always been one of my favorite events to attend. To watch the two top collegian teams, cheer on my friends, and be in an exciting atmosphere is thrilling for me,” he shared. “Now, Turkey Bowl is even more special that my collegian has won.”
Although friendly competition is in the air at Turkey Bowl, there’s a stronger sense of camaraderie that permeates these games. “It’s always exciting, just with the atmosphere that PCC creates,” said Eric Bischoff, a parent who came to watch his son Andrew (Jr., VA) play with the Hornets. “I didn’t graduate from PCC, but it’s just neat to see all the effort they put into [Turkey Bowl] to make it exciting for the young people so they make some good memories. I mean, even in loss, you can see they cherish these moments, and that’s a good thing.”