Some may have considered it the battle of the century. Others—perhaps those less prone to exaggeration—probably considered it nothing more than the latest in a long line of flag football intramurals at Southwestern Seminary. Regardless, what cannot be denied is that the red team and the blue team—titans of the sport, if indeed such a thing ever existed—showed up to the RAC field ready to play—or conquer, if you will.

Ultimately, after what the annals of Southwestern history will surely remember as an epic contest of brawn, burliness and flag-football prowess of the highest degree, the red team rose victorious with a 7-6 win, attaining the prize sought-after by all 50 players who participated in the league throughout the fall semester: championship T-shirts.

“[Winning] means that my team will get a blue shirt that says ‘2016-2017 Intramural Champions,’” explains Tim Chatman, associate director of the RAC and member of the red team. “Our ‘championship ring’ will be our blue ‘intramural championship’ T-shirt.”

The flag football championship was held in conjunction with Southwestern’s seventh annual Chili Cook-Off, Nov. 3. Though competitions of a very different sort, these two events drew out the competitive spirit of the Southwesterners who participated and proved that even seminarians like to (humbly) triumph over their competitors.

Begun in early September, the flag football league is one of three hosted by the Recreation and Aerobics Center (RAC) this semester, the other two being volleyball and soccer. As Chatman explains, “The RAC exists to promote student community and to promote a way for students to grab on and basically buy into Southwestern. The best way we have of incorporating students into working toward that goal outside the classroom is through athletics and sports.

“So we want to create as many intramural opportunities as possible for students to come in and have a sense of community and buy in to their team and to the sport they’re playing. And we see that that grows community, grows bonds that you wouldn’t make outside of intramurals.”

Five teams comprising roughly 50 students total participated in the flag football league this fall. Master of Divinity student Dillon Hess, who played quarterback for the blue team, says the sport resulted in numerous friendships. “Competing with and competing against people in a healthy way can really help to build stronger, longer-lasting relationships,” he says. “[Intramurals are] a good avenue to have friendly competition and on-campus activity that allows you to step away from the normal flow of campus and academic life.”

Though the football season has ended, volleyball will continue through Nov. 8, and soccer through Nov. 17. Next spring, intramurals will resume with basketball, soccer, ultimate Frisbee and volleyball. In the summer of 2017, the RAC will host water basketball and water polo. (For more information, visit swbts.edu/rac.)

Prior to the football game, the Chili Cook-Off provided students the opportunity to showcase their chili-cooking abilities while highlighting the regions from whence they came through their cooking styles. As a Student Life event, it also strengthened bonds among members of the Southwestern community.

“I participated in the Chili Cook-Off last year, and we just had a really great time with all of the seminary families around,” says M.Div. student Mathieu Barry, whose failure to place last year compelled him to try again. “I wanted to see if I could come out victorious this year.” Previously, Barry says, his chili was “not quite hot enough,” so he gave it “a little bit of heat so that the judges would feel that heat but not be overwhelmed by it” … unlike some of his Tabasco-loving competitors (Barry jokingly referred to one table as the “Dante’s Inferno” table). Ultimately, Barry placed second in the competition, winning a $50 Amazon gift card.

First place (and a $100 Amazon gift card) went to Hannah Brunton, wife of master’s student Jacob Brunton, and third place (plus a Southwestern T-shirt and mug) went to bachelor’s student Jillian McNeely. Master’s students Elijah Hosse and Jerry Wing won best table decoration.