A game amongst colleagues

Petty Officer 3rd Class William Coulter, a machinery technician at Coast Guard Station Siuslaw River, runs with the ball during the annual Qua versus Slaw Turkey Bowl held at Miller Park in Florence, Ore., Nov. 20, 2015. Station Siuslaw River beat Station Umpqua River in this edition of the rivalry game, but Umpqua leads the overall series 7 to 3. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Levi Read.

Petty Officer 3rd Class William Coulter, a machinery technician at Coast Guard Station Siuslaw River, runs with the ball during the annual Qua versus Slaw Turkey Bowl held at Miller Park in Florence, Ore., Nov. 20, 2015. Station Siuslaw River beat Station Umpqua River in this edition of the rivalry game, but Umpqua leads the overall series 7 to 3. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Levi Read.

Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Levi Read.

Orange, red and yellow leaves delicately hang to branches. The rest litter the ground, the battle lost, and are blown freely by the wind. Despite the chill, the rain and wind have taken a short hiatus to create a pleasant day at Miller Park in Florence, Oregon.

This time of year is characterized by the change in weather; various hues and, more importantly, the assembly of friends and family. This time of year also marks the peak of football season. Not pro or college football, but the random pick-up football games played by persons who only play once a year for traditions sake. Many call this event the Turkey Bowl because it often corresponds with the Thanksgiving holiday.

One of these football games pitted personnel from Coast Guard Station Umpqua River, located in Winchester Bay, against personnel from Coast Guard Station Siuslaw River, located in Florence.

Stations Siuslaw River and Umpqua River share a correlated history.

On this day they shared a makeshift football field marked by neon orange pylons and cones. Approximately 15 crewmembers from each station represented while the remaining crewmembers stayed behind to stand their normal Coast Guard watch, keeping the Oregon coastline safe.

Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Nielsen, a boatswain's mate and Surfman at Coast Guard Station Siuslaw River attempts to jump over pursuers from Coast Guard Station Umpqua River including Petty Officer 1st Class Justin Abold, also a boatswain's mate and Surfman, during the annual Qua versus Slaw Turkey Bowl held at Miller Park in Florence, Ore., Nov. 20, 2015. The annual turkey bowl game is morale activity that helps build and maintain relationships among crew members from both stations. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Levi Read.

Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Nielsen, a boatswain’s mate and Surfman at Coast Guard Station Siuslaw River attempts to jump over pursuers from Coast Guard Station Umpqua River including Petty Officer 1st Class Justin Abold, also a boatswain’s mate and Surfman, during the annual Qua versus Slaw Turkey Bowl held at Miller Park in Florence, Ore., Nov. 20, 2015. The annual turkey bowl game is morale activity that helps build and maintain relationships among crew members from both stations. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Levi Read.

“The main reasons we play this game annually are to maintain and build unit camaraderie, have fun and advocate for health and well-being,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Nielsen, boatswain’s mate and surfman, Station Siuslaw River. “A little competitive competition can go a long way toward building relationships with those around you.”

Umpqua started out fast and scored the first touchdowns before finally being stopped. Siuslaw made a short run to even the score. The teams traded scores through the end of the first half and into the second.

Stations Siuslaw and Umpqua are separated by only 28 miles and their areas of responsibility share a border. They often respond to the same cases when a call comes and sometimes even work cases together. This past summer they teamed together to complete two tows when the Umpqua River entrance was easier to cross than the Siuslaw River entrance. Siuslaw boats are also hauled out at Station Umpqua’s facilities for maintenance purposes.

Professionally both station crews interact and cross paths regularly, and a lot of that is by design.

Commands at each unit in the Coast Guard 13th District know that working together is for the betterment of their own crews. Coxswains cross train in each other’s area of responsibility to enhance their knowledge, especially those working toward the surfman qualification.

“We try to put our surfman trainees into as many surf areas and surf conditions as possible in order to have the most qualified boat operators as possible,” said Chief Petty Officer Benjamin Snider, executive petty officer, Station Siuslaw River. “It only makes sense to cross train our boat operators between our units because we never know where we might need to respond due to weather conditions or mechanical issues that might make any of us unable to respond.”

Going into the second half the momentum moved to the side of Station Siuslaw, with the help of a couple interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Umpqua then started making a run as the game clock ran down.

Crew members from Coast Guard Stations Umpqua River and Siuslaw River gather together after playing their annual turkey bowl football game at Miller Park in Florence, Ore., Nov. 20, 2015. The stations are only separated by 28 miles and crew members regularly interact both professionally and personally. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Levi Read.

Crew members from Coast Guard Stations Umpqua River and Siuslaw River gather together after playing their annual turkey bowl football game at Miller Park in Florence, Ore., Nov. 20, 2015. The stations are only separated by 28 miles and crew members regularly interact both professionally and personally. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Levi Read.

This tradition started in 2002 and was played again in 2003 and 2004 before starting again in 2008 after a 3-year break. It was played annually for 6 years before being skipped in 2014 due to scheduling difficulties. Snider restarted the series after he arrived at Station Umpqua in 2008. He is now keeping it going from the Siuslaw side.

“This game and other morale activities like it expose the crews to each other on a personal level,” said Snider. “Having a personal relationship amongst each other makes working together professionally easier. We are all lifeboat sailors in the end.”

Coast Guardsmen assigned to surf station units within the 13th District regularly cross paths throughout their careers.

“As small boat stations and especially surfmen go-as a whole-we are a small community,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Timothy Tregoning, officer-in-charge, Station Siuslaw River. “So few of us make this career choice and that makes us overlap day in and day out.”

Tregoning has spent nearly half his 16-year career in the Pacific Northwest. When he arrived at Station Siuslaw in the summer of 2015, he had worked with or crossed paths with every boatswain’s mate except two at the unit.

“I usually know at least three or four of the people at a unit before I even report in,” said Nielsen, who has been serving along the Oregon Coast for more than 10 years straight at stations Coos Bay, Chetco River and now Siuslaw River. “In the surf world everyone knows everyone because we are a small community.”

The Qua versus Slaw Turkey Bowl trophy sits along the sideline of the annual football game held at Miller Park in Florence, Ore., Nov. 20, 2015. Coast Guard Stations Umpqua River and Siuslaw seperated by only 28 miles along the Central Oregon Coast have a shared history of working and responding together to keep mariners in the Pacific Ocean safe and the annual football game is a way to build and maintain  important relationships.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Levi Read.

The Qua versus Slaw Turkey Bowl trophy sits along the sideline of the annual football game held at Miller Park in Florence, Ore., Nov. 20, 2015. Coast Guard Stations Umpqua River and Siuslaw seperated by only 28 miles along the Central Oregon Coast have a shared history of working and responding together to keep mariners in the Pacific Ocean safe and the annual football game is a way to build and maintain important relationships. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Levi Read.

The Qua versus Slaw Turkey bowl, as it is known by participants, is only a game and the only prize a trophy. However the actual rewards come through physical fitness, team building, morale and esprit de corps. Played by men and women from different units, but who belong to the same organization. The core values they operate with on a daily basis keeping their competitive juices in check.

Nearing the end of the game, Umpqua scored a touchdown, but they were unable to regain possession of the ball before time ran out. Siuslaw took home the trophy in 2015, but Umpqua leads the overall series 7 to 3.

“We are a family across D13, I once worked with the officer-in-charge at Siuslaw River while at Quillayute River who was the XPO of the unit back then,” said Chief Petty Officer Michael Carola, executive petty officer, Station Umpqua River. “The game was also a chance for me to finally catch back up with a shipmate, Petty Officer 2nd Class Sierra Schlager who I last saw as a brand new BM3 departing Quillayute River for the east coast now returning as a BM2 Coxswain – breaking-in Surfman; A connection lasting over 8 years reunited.”

A chance to see old friends successful in their careers made the loss of the game easier to accept for Carola. Although he claims Schlager tripped him on that interception!

“The Slaw may keep ‘OUR’ trophy company until next game,” said Carola!”

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