By Brenna Knowles
For The Observer
NORTH POWDER Brody Turner's football career began when he was a day old and his uncle placed a full-sized football in his crib.
Turner, a running back from Powder Valley High School, is now the ninth member of his family to be selected for the Oregon East-West Shrine Football game.
Since 1965, eight other members of the Turner family have been selected for the game. Those players included: Donnie Gorham, 1965, Powder Valley; Don Turner, 1971, Union; Phil Turner, 1971, Pine-Eagle; Eugene Turner, 1976, Pine-Eagle; Silas Turner, 1994, Powder Valley; Clint Turner, 1996, Banks High School; Casey Turner, 1999, Banks High School; and Brad Turner Navarro, 2001, Ontario High School.
"It's safe to say football runs in my blood," Brody said. He only feels a "little bit of pressure" from his family to perform well in the game.
Backyard football games and mentors have helped foster so many skillful players in the family.
Silas Turner, Brody's older brother, said sports were encouraged at a very young age in their family. "We would sit with dad and watch sports on TV and then we would go out in the backyard and play."
Silas said Turner boys were "expected to play. It's tradition, you're gonna play and you're gonna like it."
Silas said there is no specific physical trait in the Turner family that makes them good football players. He said "it's more of a mind set. We were always taught to make it stick, hurt people, within the rules of the game of course, and that if you were timid in tackling, you would get hurt."
Silas remembers playing backyard football with Brody, their brothers Coy and Kip and their father Don. Silas said Brody started playing with the older boys when he was 3 or 4 years old.
"I could tell he was going to be good. Everyone was twice his size and he went at you just as hard. He's motivated and aggressive and it hurt when he hit you," Silas said, "He's the youngest of four so he got the worst of it and now he's bigger than all of us."
Viki Turner, mother of Silas, Coy, Kip and Brody, said Brody's success in football was a matter of "survival of the fittest."
Viki said she has learned not to worry about her sons on game day. "I say a little prayer that nobody on either side gets hurt. I'm always confident that my boys are trained well and they're as strong as they're going to be.
It's an honor to have them in the Shrine game."
Silas said backyard football involves a lot of obstacles like a clothesline, a water spigot and a fence. "We hurt just about everything," Silas said.
Silas has two scars in his leg from backyard football. He punctured his shin with two nails. "I was expecting sympathy but my dad said get up and keep playing, so I did," Silas said.
Silas said his family members are successful in football because of the mentors each player has had. Silas said Donnie Gorham, a 1965 Shrine player, came to all of his games and was a "great player and a great person, a real role model."
Viki said Gorham had "drive, dedication, and self discipline."
"He was the ultimate athlete," she said. "He knew what he wanted and how to get there. He was the example for the rest of the guys," she said.
Silas said his father, Don has had a huge influence on the football careers of Turner family members as well. "Dad is a legend to me, I always wanted to do what he did," Silas said.
Silas said he remembers the football stories at family reunions. "The younger generations really fed off of that. I remember hearing the stories and thinking I want to do that, I want to be like dad.'"
Silas and Brody both remember looking at newspaper clippings and pictures of the Shrine Game. A small trophy of a football player and a child on crutches has always sat on a table in the Turner's living room.
Don remembers family reunions in the Wolf Creek area where Turners would play football, basketball and baseball throughout the day. "We'd have lunch and play some more. As soon as you were old enough to walk and talk you were expected to play and the old folks played too."
Don said the best thing about football is accomplishing something as a team.
"There is no individual, everything is done together and when you work together that's a good feeling."
Don is still in contact with people he met on his Shrine team. He said the sport of football has taught him that "nothing comes easy, you've got to work for it."
Don said he will never forget his visit to the Shriner's Hospital in Portland before the Shrine Game. He said seeing the children who were patients in the hospital was "a real eye opener."
Silas remembers visiting the Shriner's Children's Hospital too. "That's when it hit home. You'd see those kids, some terminally ill and their eyes would light up, just because you were a football player," he said, "It really motivates you in the game to have those kids in the back of your mind."
Silas still has kids on his mind. His twin babies Natalia and Seth were born on May 6 in Doernbecher Children's Hospital, right across the street from the Shriner's Children's Hospital.
Silas said he is excited to play football with them someday.
"Now we'll have to go out and get Seth a football for his crib," Viki said.