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Turkey Bowl fosters friendships

Thu., Nov. 20, 2008

Flag game’s all about making connections

Martin Herford says the big game he’s organized this Sunday is all about the fellowship.

“Anybody can play football. Anybody can put a Turkey Bowl together,” Herford said. “But to me, it’s about the friendships that grow from it.”

The flag football game between two already-formed teams of men and boys will be played at 3:30 p.m. in the Shock Center, 3212 N. Eden Road in Spokane Valley, the indoor training facility of Spokane’s arenafootball2 team. This is the second of what Herford hopes will be an annual event. Last year’s game was played at West Valley High School.

“Last year, I had a couple of men come to me afterward and say it brought them and their sons closer,” Herford said. “It gave them the opportunity to do something both like.”

It was music to the ears of Herford, 40, a gospel singer and stay-at-home dad who’s trying to parlay his vocal talent into a career. He’s performed the national anthem at Shock games, the Fourth of July Neighbor Days and Pig Out in the Park. He’s sung at the former Big Easy and at the Fox, and he’s scheduled to sing at six Gonzaga basketball games and a Chiefs hockey game this season.

While it may be true that anybody can put on a Turkey Bowl, few local amateur sporting events can boast the roster of corporate sponsors Herford has thrown together. Wal-Mart, Toys “R” Us, Schuck’s Auto Supply, Holiday Station stores and Ace Hardware have provided gifts to be given away to spectators during halftime. Restaurant chains including IHOP, Subway and Boston’s The Gourmet Pizza have donated gift certificates.

Among the items to be given away are footballs, turkeys and Seahawks paraphernalia. Pizza Hut will throw a pizza party for the winning team.

Herford said he made many of his connections, including his Shock contacts, through his singing engagements.

Many of the team’s players attend the same nondenominational church as Herford’s family, One Church in Spokane Valley. He and his wife, Karen, moved to the Spokane area from Dallas four years ago. They have four children, including two boys, ages 11 and 12, who will play on their father’s team Sunday.

Herford said friendships sprang from last year’s game, and there are more friendships to be made.

“You can’t buy memories like that,” he said.

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