By Air Force Staff Sgt. Veronica Montes
Defense Information School
The sea service student team accepts the Toilet Bowl Award for winning the Defense Information School’s 2015 Toilet Bowl, at Mullins Field, Fort Meade, Md., Sept 25, 2015. The sea service team conquered the air-land team 20 to 6.
Defense Information School service members, civilians and teammates, covered in sweat on a muddy, wrecked field, stood exhausted. What started as some trash talk earlier in the week had landed these instructors on patches of grass destroyed by footprints. They stood divided, the air and land services versus the sea services.
“It was basically a sandlot for adult men,” said Bob Jenkins, remembering the day a tradition was born. Thirty seven years later that tradition continues as the event known as the Toilet Bowl.
Jenkins, garrison director of public affairs at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, was one of the original instructors to implement the Toilet Bowl. After that first pick-up game in 1981 at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana, the Toilet Bowl became an annual morale event for DINFOS faculty and staff.
The 2016 Toilet Bowl will kick off at 9 a.m. Oct. 28, outside the Gaffney Fitness Center.
“It used to be the talk of the school,” said Jim Gilbert, the Defense Information School deputy director of training. “People really got pumped up about it. The trash talk started a month before, and everyone knew the Toilet Bowl was coming up.”
The Toilet Bowl was a day where DINFOS instructors, who worked together, served together and mentored one other, set aside their school obligations and joined their respective services to either compete on the field, or cheer on from the sidelines.
Gilbert, who has attended 23 Toilet Bowls, said that when it started, there was an old outhouse they would use as a prop at the 50-yard line, and King John would come out onto the field.
According to tradition, King John, ruler of the Kingdom of the Porta Potty, only leaves his palace once a year for the pre-game ceremonial toss. He attends the event in a crown and robe, while holding a toilet plunger and using a toilet paper roll as his scroll.
Gilbert said the outhouse hasn’t been a prop for a while, but some years King John would still arrive. Either way, every year the game is played, and the spectators get hyped up to support their units.
“It’s like being at a professional sporting event, but we all know the players,” said Gilbert. “We are out there supporting our own people, and everyone has someone to cheer for. It can be the biggest morale-boosting event for DINFOS all year.”
This year there is already stir between the teams due to the Air/Land team’s four-year winning streak. The Sea Services – Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard – are under pressure to step up their game. Regardless of the hallway chatter and trash talk, this event is really geared to bring the whole DINFOS community together as one team.
“Things like this help to bring us together as a family,” said Army 1st Sgt. Rick McNamara, the DINFOS first sergeant. “It’s a blast. It ties us together and builds up to a real comradery.”
McNamara said it’s events like this that rebuild morale, and that’s what he would like to see this year.
“Give it a chance, come hang out, even laugh at us,” said McNamara. “We’ve got to embrace the good times.”