By Capt. Jayson L. Hughes, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division WestDecember 20, 2013
FORT HOOD, Texas -- Over 150 spectators braved freezing temperatures and 15 mph winds to watch 166th Aviation Brigade's second Annual Turkey Bowl at the Smith Middle School stadium, recently.
The 166th Aviation Brigade utilized the day before Thanksgiving to provide a fun-filled day for its Soldiers, civilians and Families.
The Turkey Bowl was a tournament consisting of a three-game round robin between the noncommissioned officers, warrant officers, and officers. To gear up for the game, each team had been practicing seven on seven plays weeks in advance. As with last year's football game, the brigade encouraged Family members to play along with their Soldiers.
Col. Kevin Vizzarri, 166th Aviation Brigade commander gathered the team captains during pre-game warm up and changed the football game from seven on seven man teams to 11 on 11.
"With such a high turnout on each team, I want to increase participation as much as possible," said Vizzarri. "Our goal is to have fun and getting as many Soldiers on the field will do that."
The rule change came as a pleasant surprise to the players and coaches. Capt. Michael Bales, 1st Battalion, 351st Aviation Regiment operations officer and the officer team coach had to make some quick changes to his game plan. His team had over 30 members, so playing time would have been limited.
"We have some guys that can run and catch well and some guys that can block great so this rule change can get more guys in to play," said Bales. "It's a great idea."
The tournament started with the warrant officers challenging the officers. The officers took an early lead and coasted to a 20-0 final. In the second game, the warrant officers took a 14-0 lead, until NCOs battled back to win the game 15-14. Since the NCOs and officers were undefeated, the NCO-officer game would decide the champion this year.
Both teams fought hard in a game that turned into a defensive stalemate until late into the game. With just four minutes left, Capt. Lionel Macklin threw a dump pass to the right hash to Adrian Duncan, step son of Maj. Kevin Boates, 166th operations planner. Duncan then weaved through several defenders for a 55 yard score.
"It was just one of those plays when you get the ball and turn up field," said Duncan while trying to catch his breath after the run. "I had some running room and a few blockers did the rest."
The Officers went on to win 7-0 for the second consecutive year.
Football wasn't the only event. The brigade set up a bouncy house and face-painting station for the children to enjoy.
"I always like coming to the Army events, because the unit always thinks of the kids and gets them involved," said Angela Macklin, spouse of Capt. Macklin, 1st Battalion, 351st Aviation Regiment team chief.
Historically, unit commanders utilize sporting events to increase unit participation in competitive team building. These events also allow the unit to develop relationships across higher and lower echelons in order to increase communication flow within the unit as a whole.