If teams are fortunate enough to still be playing in the NCAA Tournament Round of 16, families get the short end of the stick as their athletes remain at school through Thanksgiving in preparation for the big match come the weekend.
For the Hoosiers, there is a special tradition they take part in every season when they remain in Bloomington through the holiday. The Tudor Room in the Indiana Memorial Union on campus welcomes in the IU soccer team each and every year they are still playing in the NCAA Tournament.
Indiana will once again spend its Thanksgiving at the IMU for the fourth straight season, eating what they call “Tudor Room turkey.”
“Most importantly, I think a tradition within our program is eating Thanksgiving together,” IU coach Todd Yeagley said. “It’s somewhat of a sign that you’ve had a really good year.”
Even though the team must be away from their families, in a program with as much history as IU, spending Thanksgiving together is something that is a signal of success. It’s a marker on the road to something they have been striving for all year.
Indiana has won the Big Ten double for the first time since 2006, but what they want is something that will be coming in two weeks time. It’s been a season of success. Yet, Yeagley wants to forget about that for the time being. He wants his team to realize how special spending Thanksgiving together is for this team.
“Take away the two titles that they’ve already accomplished,” Yeagley said. “Just this time of year, to have Thanksgiving together, do our traditional great meal at the Tudor Room and come over to our house and just spend time with the group — because there is nothing else going on around town and school is out, it just allows them to bond in a great way.”
There may not be a team playing better soccer in the country right now than Indiana. The Hoosiers have won the last two matches by a combined score of 7-0. Senior Andrew Gutman might even be the frontrunner for the MAC Hermann player of the year award.
“You don’t want to be a team in our way right now.”
— The Hoosier Network (@TheHoosierNet) November 18, 2018
Gutman also made the remark that “you don’t want to be a team in our way right now.” That’s how in form the Hoosiers are currently. For the eight seniors, this will be the last time they get this experience. But for the freshmen, it’s a new experience and it’s something Yeagley wants them to get used to.
“I’m excited that our younger players continue to understand how important that is,” Yeagley said. “Our older players get four years straight of that, which is nothing better than a nice meal Thursday.”
The Tudor Room will get the Hoosiers fed well. Turkey, stuffing, pie; the full Thanksgiving meal. Once the meal is done and the good camaraderie is shared, the focus will return to the Air Force Falcons and the NCAA Tournament Round of 16.
Yeagley is going to enjoy the meal himself. However, there will be an extra eye on the dessert table, making sure the Hoosiers don’t have a bit too much pumpkin pie.
“It’s going to taste good,” Yeagley said. “The guys are already talking about the desserts. Easy on the desserts.”