This year marked the fifth annual “Turkey Bowl” football game at National University in Florida. It is perhaps the most anticipated and celebrated tradition among NUHS Florida faculty and students.
First Turkey Bowl in 2009
“At our very first Turkey Bowl in 2009, we had only 11 students since our Florida DC program had just opened that fall,” says Dr. Stiefel, dean of the Florida program from 2009 through his inauguration as NUHS President in 2013. “We played with borrowed gear in a muddy soccer field just behind my office.”
The drizzle on bowl day was enough to soak everyone, but not enough to cancel the game. Players had to muster their courage when the ball rolled out of bounds near a retention pond where alligators were rumored to live.
With so few on the field, Dr. Stiefel alternated as quarterback for both sides during the first half. In the second half, he and student Dex Alvarez (2012 DC graduate) went up for the same pass, and Dex came down squarely on Dr. Stiefel’s foot. Oblivious to the pain, Dr. Stiefel kept playing, finding out later that he had broken his toe.
The game ended with a small golden turkey trophy awarded to the MVP (Most Valuable Professor).
Turkey Bowls 2010 – 2012
In 2010 there were refreshments, an official coin for the pre-game toss, and enough students for two full teams. Afterwards, everyone agreed that the old muddy soccer field was no longer up to the standards of the Bowl, so in 2011, the NUHS Turkey Bowl moved to a new field, complete with bleachers, at a nearby park district property.
By 2012, the Bowl had four teams who played an elimination round before the big game between the two winning teams. It had become a family event with potluck refreshments and craft activities for kids on the sidelines. These intervening years also brought a second trophy honoring the most valuable student player.
Turkey Bowl 2013
In the most recent 2013 Bowl, the winning team was the first ever to receive the “Stiefel Cup.” T-shirts commemorating the event, were designed by the daughter of Dr. Daniel Strauss, dean of the College of Professional Studies in Florida. Dr. Stiefel, now President of NUHS, executed the pre-game coin toss and mediated disputes over controversial calls by the referee.
President Stiefel says: “The Turkey Bowl will always be special to Florida, and is and has always been a student driven event. I’m proud to be part of the legend, and part of the fun!”