The orange clad flag football team from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC) fought a cold, raw wind and teams from seven other seminaries from across the country to lock up the annual Luther Bowl hosted on Seminary Ridge by the Gettysburg Seminary on Saturday, November 10, 2007.
This was the first tournament for LSTC which defeated a strong squad from the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (Columbia, SC) in the final game 27-0 to secure the trophy Book of Concord. They netted three wins earlier on the cold, damp western fields of the 52 acre Gettysburg Seminary campus, trouncing Trinity Lutheran Seminary, from Columbus, OH, Virginia Theological Seminary, from Alexandria, VA, and Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, VA along the way.
Eight teams competed, including Philadelphia Seminary, Trinity Episcopal Seminary from Pittsburgh, and the host Gettysburg. All games were highly competitive, with teams fielding the fastest, youngest teams in years. The play is coeducational, and soggy turf from hours of rain kept injuries to a minimum.
The dramatic championship game featured the undefeated teams, both having dominated their opponents throughout the day. The seminarians from Chicago outlasted their collegial opponents and played mistake free against an equally strong Southern squad. Interceptions did in the team from Southern, and Chicago was able to capitalize on every mistake.
The day began cool and cloudy, and the temperatures seemed to drop when a mid morning wind picked up from the north. But the players doggedly drove on, each team completing at least three games. Host Gettysburg had a disappointing day, losing to Southern in its opening match, but came away with a win against rival Philadelphia. Players thanked the hosts for putting on a fun tournament, one that was “worth the long trip” taken by several of the teams.
Cris Frigm, a second year student, and one of the many persons involved in coordinating this event said “This is really a great community event, it’s the only sporting event our school has at this time and it’s always competitive, and good clean fun”.
The Luther Bowl has been taking place for over 30 years now, and originally took place because of the rivalry between two Lutheran seminaries involving a split in the 1860's when the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia was formed. Many decades later those two schools formed the Luther Bowl as a type of rivalry game, which then expanded to four Lutheran teams and eventually breaking denominational barriers to make it eight.
“Seminary flag football is about having fun, building community, and engaging in good old-fashioned competition,” said John Newton co-captain of the team and a student at Virginia Theological Seminary. “The VTS Fighting Friars want to win, and we take winning seriously, but winning always takes a backseat to having fun and building community,” Newton said. “We play pretty hard, but at the end of the day we shake hands and hug, we smile and congratulate one another, regardless of whether we win or lose.” “And through it all we grow closer to God and to one another, it’s a very special part of seminary life,” Newton added.
Peter Horn, a first year Gettysburg student athlete said, “It’s always a heck of a lot of fun to get a chance to break from your studies and compete in an event that’s so much fun.” He added, “I enjoy the opportunity to meet all the other seminary students from all over and playing such a great game.”
Results in the games played during the tournament were as follows:
Southern 13 vs Gettysburg 7
Trinity Episcopal 26 vs Philadelphia 6
Gettysburg 13 vs Philadelphia 7
Southern 18 vs Trinity Episcopal 0
Trinity Episcopal 38 vs. Gettysburg 13
Southern 14 vs Philadelphia 12
Chicago 26 vs. Trinity Lutheran 6
VTS 13 vs Union 7
Trinity Lutheran 26 vs VTS 13
Chicago 31 vs Union 12
Union 20 vs Trinity Lutheran 19
Chicago 26 vs VTS 6
Final: Chicago 27 vs Southern 0
LUTHERAN THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY AT GETTYSBURG
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CONTACT: John Spangler 717-338-3010 email@example.com
(John Knouse contributed to this story)