From Gridiron to Giving, Dexter Alumni Score Big with Charity Football Tradition
In Dexter, a group of nine former high school athletes, now college juniors, are not only scoring touchdowns but also winning hearts. Sam Alabre, Christian Dimo, Jack Kirkey, Jack Martin, Cam Markel, Avery Berkebile, Andrew Zogaib, Josh Sharp, and Keegan Kipke, long-time friends since their days playing DYFL football in 3rd grade, have created a Thanksgiving tradition, the Turkey Bowl, that's more than just a game.
These dynamic young men, united since their days in high school playing up to and on the Varsity Football team, have a bond strengthened not just by time, but by their shared passion for sports. Throughout their high school years, they were not just teammates, but became brothers on the field, playing football, baseball, and basketball together. Their love for sports didn't wane as they stepped into college life. Instead, it evolved, embracing fantasy football leagues, March Madness brackets, and a travel basketball team called the “Wacky Rabbits.”
The inception of the Turkey Bowl dates back to the fall of 2021 when the group, fresh from their first months in college, decided to organize a football tournament. This wasn't just any gathering - it was a blend of competition, camaraderie, and charity. Participants were required to contribute non-perishable food items, turning a fun day into a meaningful endeavor.
This year marked the 3rd Annual Turkey Bowl, held on November 24th, drawing over 45 players, including current high school athletes and graduates from Dexter's Class of 2019. The event, which started with suits, sunglasses, and a player draft full of laughter, has blossomed into a community highlight. A truckload of donations was collected and given to Faith In Action’s food pantry.
“As a parent of a Rabbit, we absolutely love the fact that these boys have stayed friends and continue to get together as much as they can. We also stay close with the other parents, too”, says Wendy Martin. “The boys do it all- the only thing the parents do is bring hot chocolate!”
The friends, studying at various universities including American University, Rutgers, University of Toledo, U of M, MSU, and Western, see this event as more than a game. “We wanted to have some fun while we were home on thanksgiving break, and thought a flag football tournament would be fun”, said Sam Alabre and Keegan Kipke agreed saying, “We enjoy playing games/sports as a friend group, and often play basketball, touch football, ultimate frisbee, volleyball, tennis, etc which is why we were interested in doing some sort of sports tournament.”
As plans for the 4th Annual Turkey Bowl on November 29, 2024, are already underway, it's clear that what began as a simple football game among friends has evolved into a beloved community tradition with a twist of generosity. This group of Dexter graduates proves that the spirit of Thanksgiving can extend beyond the dinner table, creating a legacy that's both fun and philanthropic.
Photos courtesy of Wendy Martin