The Indiana University men’s soccer program has a long-standing Thanksgiving tradition called Tudor Room Turkey that dates back to the program’s inception in the 1970s. I was introduced to this Thanksgiving tradition in 2008.
To celebrate Thanksgiving, the IU soccer team, from players to coaching staff and their families, all visit the Tudor Room, which is a decorated banquet hall located in the Indiana Memorial Union. As one of those most successful programs in collegiate sports, this has become a great tradition for former players, coaches, and friends and family of the program.
The men’s soccer NCAA tournament first round is the Thursday before Thanksgiving, with the second round just three days later on Sunday. Those teams that advance to the 3rd round, or Round of 16, don’t play until the following Sunday after Thanksgiving, which means that those lucky teams have to stay on campus and celebrate the holiday with their teams.
Since the program’s inception in 1973, IU soccer has won more tournament wins, more final four appearances (18), and more national championships (8) than any other division one program. This success has turned the Thanksgiving meal from a fun get together, to a symbolic reminder of the program’s success, a reflection on where you’re at, and a motivator for the rest of the tournament. Now, players and alumni celebrate “Tudor Room Turkey” instead of advancing to the Sweet 16. A simple #TudorRoomTurkey search through social medias will show the impact of the tradition.
While I love traveling home to spend holidays with my family, there was nothing better than being in Bloomington during those five years with my teammates and coaches. The college soccer season is grueling, and the Thanksgiving holiday is a reminder of all of the work you’ve put in as a team to get to that point. The training session on Thanksgiving is always a more fun, laid-back atmosphere called the Turkey Bowl, where we the team participates in a variety of games like crossbar competitions, soccer tennis, horseshoes, and more. Sounds silly, and it is, but it’s an accumulation of the traditions built over the years, that make it special.
For anyone familiar with Indiana soccer, tourney time is one of the most special times of the year. This season marks the 36th time that the soccer team has advanced to the Sweet 16 in it’s 44 years of division one soccer. #TudorRoomTurkey will always be a special memory for me and all other classes that have been fortunate enough to be a part of the program.
Best of luck to the team as they prepare for their round of 16 match this upcoming Sunday vs. Virginia Tech!