When most people think about homecoming, they think Saturday tailgates and the Storm taking on an Iowa Conference foe on the gridiron. Some students also look forward to the annual flag football tournament put on by Student Government Association.
This year, the tournament was the Tuesday before the homecoming game. It started at 7 p.m. in Bill Buxton Stadium under the lights, which created an atmosphere reminiscent of high school football.
That reminiscence is one reason why Gage Reis, a Simpson senior baseball player, always plays in the flag football tournament.
“It’s really fun, and I was a quarterback in high school and I really miss the sport so coming out here and throwing the ball around is fun, especially when you win,” Reis said.
The love of the game that some of these athletes no longer play is not the only reason some teams play. The prize money is a big draw for some teams because college students are usually strapped for cash, so they figure they might as well have fun playing football to potentially make a little extra scratch.
This year’s top team brought home a $200 gift card to Buffalo Wild Wings in Des Moines. Reis was on the winning team and ran the offense efficiently, scoring on almost every possession.
Cody Isabel, sophomore senator on SGA on the planning committee, said, “I was a ref last year, and the prize is pretty good, so we had 10 teams and it got really competitive at the end.”
That competitive spirit was on display in many aspects of the night. Some footballers yelled in disappointment after a mistake and most cheered after scores. Reis, after throwing nearly every touchdown pass, and all of the ones in the barnburner championship game, gave a fist pump and a ‘Let’s go!’ in celebration.
“This was definitely the closest championship game,” Reis said. “It came down to the last play this year and usually we kind of blow the other team out, so it was a fun one.”
Reis was able to think back on previous championships because he has won four of them in his college career. After the game he said that it had to be some sort of unofficial record to win all four years, and he may be right.
Reis’ team, Squad, was comprised of eight members, five men and three women, this year. All of the team members are current or former athletes at Simpson.
Squad wasn’t the only team with current and former Simpson athletes, though. The second place team, Tinted, had a number of basketball players on its roster. A couple of the other teams had softball players, soccer players, retired football players, and there were a number of women’s basketball players on the field that night as well.
Among the athletes were also teams that were playing for fun just to have a good time with teammates, and some were there because they participate in every possible intramural activity that is offered at Simpson.
Overall, the purpose of the flag football tournament is to provide a fun way for students to interact with others and help to generate a little more excitement for the big game on Saturday.