Twin college presidents' teams do battle on the gridiron

  • Identical twin brothers Kenneth Ender, left, president of Harper College in Palatine, and Steven Ender, right, president of Grand Rapids Community College.

    Identical twin brothers Kenneth Ender, left, president of Harper College in Palatine, and Steven Ender, right, president of Grand Rapids Community College. Erin Brooks

 
Erin Brooks
Updated 10/24/2010 7:40 AM

They look the same. They talk the same.

They chose the same career, and have identical job titles.

 

But they root for different college football teams.

Identical twin brothers Kenneth and Steven Ender are the presidents of Harper College in Palatine and Grand Rapids Community College in Grand Rapids, Mich. They watched their teams go head to head Saturday in the second annual Twin Bowl the aptly named matchup that takes the duo's sibling rivalry to the gridiron.

The battle was tough, and the stakes were high: the victors would earn the traveling Twin Bowl trophy and -- even more important, as any sibling knows brotherly bragging rights for the next year.

"We've had a rivalry going for since we were kids, though it's mostly been all in fun," said Harper's Kenneth Ender, decked out in Harper Hawks blue. "I think we all know it gets a lot more serious when it involves a football game."

"We both hate to lose," Grand Rapids' Steven Ender added, "but it's always fun to compete."

The twin Enders were on the field together for a joint coin toss, and watched much of the game together from the sidelines and stands. The two stood side-by-side on the field at the game's end, when the coveted trophy identical football players atop a loving cup -- was handed to Grand Rapids.

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The Raiders won the game, 54 to 14.

"Our team came out here and played a good game," Kenneth Ender said. "Our guys have a lot of pride, and a lot of heart. I already warned my brother that next year may be a whole different story."

The Twin Bowl began in 2009, when the two Enders took over the helms of their respective colleges at nearly the same time and made a surprising discovery: Their football teams played each other as part of the regular season.

Not ones to pass on a chance for friendly competition, they embraced the yearly battle, and so have the fans.

Dozens of Harper students, faculty and staff showed up for Saturday's game; about 40 Grand Rapids Community College Raiders fans made the more than 3-hour drive from Michigan in buses; and a host of community members, including five sets of twins, turned out as well, full of twin spirit.

Many sported Hawks gear and waved blue foam fingers; twins who attended also joined the twin Drs. Ender for a special on-field halftime portrait.

Family-friendly pregame festivities also drew a crowd; attendees enjoyed Hawks giveaways, music from Harper's on-campus radio station, Chicago-style hot dogs, entertainment from the College's Pom and Dance Team, and other tailgate-style activities -- including games, spirit sign-making and face-painting.