Thirty years ago today, in Volume 36, Issue 5 of The Banner, sports editor Chuck Walker wrote an event preview headlined, “Fortuna Bowl I brings football action to Cal Baptist next Monday.”
Now 30 years later, students at California Baptist University will gather to celebrate Fortuna Bowl XXX as a part of the annual Family and Parents Weekend.
Starting in 1991, Fortuna Bowl was named after the Fortuna statue that sits in front of the W. E. James Building. The Fortuna statue has been a part of CBU history since its beginning as California Baptist College.
“In 1927, an organization known as the Neighbors of Woodcraft built a new home, now CBC, for its elder members who could no longer care for themselves. Set in the midst of a flower garden, Fortuna was chosen to add additional beauty to the front of the new home,” said a 1970 issue of The Banner.
Back when CBU was CBC and just a small school of a few hundred people, the statue was used in many campus traditions. A former Fortuna tradition from the mid-1960s to early 2000s included a candle ceremony in which men and women gathered to celebrate a couple’s engagement.
“The future groom sends out invitations to 12 to 15 of the friends of the bride-to-be,” wrote Tracy Purmort, 2004 features editor for The Banner. “First, the women join in a circle around the Fortuna Fountain. With the women in place, the men walk up and stand as a group opposite the women, who each held a lit candle. After some of Rogers’ friends had blown out their candles, Epler stepped forward and announced his intent to marry her. He then blew out her candle. Following tradition, Epler was thrown into Fortuna to top off the night.”
Today, the Fortuna statue represents a rich piece of CBU history and provides excitement for students who are participating in the annual intramural Fortuna football games. Fortuna Bowl has been a part of Parent and Family weekend since 2017.
Marnie Kavern, director of intramurals, said Fortuna Bowl’s impact spans across generations at CBU.
“Fortuna Bowl draws a large crowd, not just students and their families but alumni as well,” Kavern said. “In the past, when a legacy team plays in Fortuna Bowl, we have had several alumni come back to support their team. It gives them a connection to the university long after they have left. That deep of a connection can be admired by current students and create a desire to join or replicate that experience.”
Another important aspect of Fortuna Bowl is the teams themselves.
Many of the Fortuna teams, men’s and women’s, are considered legacy teams. Legacy teams are teams passed down throughout generations of CBU students.
Tessa Levin, senior bio-medical major, has played in the Fortuna Championships every year of college and hopes to make it to Fortuna champtionships for her senior year.
“Flag football is competitive, but the goal has always been to form solid friendships among everyone participating,” Levin said. “That’s partly what brought S.W.A.T. and Bus (Drivers) together. We were in a sense “rival” but many of us were actually good friends which made the experience much more exciting and is a big part of what ultimately brought us together.”
Kavern said COVID-19 played a role in the combining of many teams as students graduated during the pandemic and were unable to pass down the legacy. The Bus Drivers were one of these teams.
The Bus Drivers dominated the intramural football league for the last 18 years and won the Fortuna Championship for five consecutive years. However, in the 2021 playoffs, the Bus Drivers are nowhere to be found. To keep the tradition alive, the Bus Drivers and another fading legacy team, S.W.A.T. were combined to make “Legacy.”
Levin, originally a member of Bus Drivers and now a member of Legacy, said there is a lot of work that goes into keeping legacy teams alive.
“I wouldn’t say I feel pressure to win as a Legacy team, I think the pressure lies more in keeping the tradition alive and going,” Levin said. “It takes a lot of effort every year to make sure we’re investing in new incoming students so that they can feel connected to a community and then do the same for students the following years.”
Kavern echoes this thought saying that there is more that goes into legacy teams than people realize.
“I think legacy teams are important because it shows what intramurals are about, which is building community,” Kavern said. “For a team to continue on year after year they have to incorporate freshmen and sophomores into their roster. They have to be intentional with who is on the team and not just play with the same set of people every year.”
Luke Bell, senior marketing major and member of Twinkle Toes, was one of the players that contributed to Twinkle Toes’ 2019 Fortuna win against the Baptist Badies, another legacy team.
“We are a team that has been playing together since 2018, as we first started under the name ‘The P’Boys’ but we eventually switched our name to Twinkle Toes in 2019,” Bell said.
The Baptist Badies are on their way to legacy status as this year’s Fortuna Bowl will be a telling sign to the future of the team.
“I definitely feel pressure from being on a legacy team because we all want to win Fortuna again,” Bell said. “However, this year there is some very intense competition which can make going to Fortuna more of a challenge than it was in the past. Everyone was shocked when Twinkle Toes won Fortuna back in 2019, so we want to maintain our status even after we all graduate.”
The community and excitement surrounding legacy teams are a great representation of what makes Fortuna Bowl so unique.
The legacy of the Fortuna statue, Fortuna Bowl and the students participating will carry on for generations — and hopefully, 30 years from now, readers will look back on this article as a piece of insight into the legacy.