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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The battle of the Early Colleges…against measles and rubella

Jonathan Gregory
Aarush Kulkarni (center) astonished by the turnout.

This May, the Early College at Guilford hosted the school’s first official interscholastic football game against the STEM Early College at N.C. A&T. Run by the Red Cross clubs at each school, the event was one of the biggest in both schools’ histories.

“I knew there would be more people than last time, but I was still shocked by how many showed up!” said Aarush Kulkarni, president of the Red Cross Club at ECG.

Looking at the club’s past, his surprise is understandable. The Red Cross at ECG had humble beginnings. It started as a committee under a different club in January 2022. Without any name, money or members, Kulkarni and his team set out to create their first event: a charity flag football game.

Using Guilford’s Armfield Athletic Center, ECG had a tournament to see which grade level would be crowned football stars. The match ended in a draw between the seniors and sophomores, and ECG raised $200 for the Red Cross Measles and Rubella Initiative–a global charity dedicated to vaccinating children from deadly but easily preventable diseases.

“At the time, this was amazing. I mean, we raised money for a great cause and established ourselves as an independent club,” Kulkarni said. “But I knew we could do better.”

Meanwhile, only 15 minutes away, another Red Cross Club at a different Early College was forming. Ishan Patel, a student at the Early College at N.C. A&T, started the club because of his passion for service.

“I’ve always wanted to serve underprivileged communities,” he said. “The Red Cross Club is my way of giving back.”

But faced with many of the same challenges the ECG Red Cross went through, he wanted to do more. Patel talked to Kulkarni about his struggles and learned about the football game. That is when the idea of exploiting their schools’ friendly feud emerged.

The Early College rivalry is an intriguing one because of how similar the schools are. Both are selective early college high schools in Guilford County, partnering with some of the best colleges in the area. And neither school has a sports team to put their rivalry to rest. But because of all these similarities, the schools face some of the same challenges.

“Being an Early College student and, like, juggling your school stuff and your social life can be hard,” said Melina Seng, an ECG student.

Kulkarni and Patel took this element into consideration, making every effort to ensure that the event was as enjoyable as possible. On the event day, they bought pizza and Kona Ice for the attendees. They even prepared a halftime show where contestants competed for Red Cross merchandise. However, nerves started to kick in.

“I was so nervous no one was gonna show up,” Kulkarni confessed. “We would’ve done all this work for nothing.”

But slowly, the bleachers filled up. Some even brought face paint and signs to support their respective sides. The hype was real.

The night consisted of two separate games: an underclassmen game and an upperclassmen game. The underclassmen game kicked off first with N.C. A&T receiving the ball. With both teams lacking a solid defense, there were back-and-forth touchdowns until an ECG sophomore made a critical interception. After that lead, the ECG underclassmen held on until the whistle blew, winning their match.

The upperclassmen game unfolded in a similar way. N.C. A&T received possession and there were touchdowns back and forth, until ECG reached a fourth down. With just a few yards left, ECG decided to go for it. Despite the gamble, ECG fumbled the ball, resulting in a turnover. And for the first time, they were down on points without possession. After the turnover, ECG conceded again and lost the game.

The two games resulted in an overall draw. But with the rivalry still unresolved, Kulkarni and Patel plan to organize another football game next year–maybe even turning it into a tradition. While neither side won the day, the game saw over 200 attendees and collectively raised almost 10 times as much as the year before, ultimately vaccinating about 800 children. 

“I’m glad everything worked out in the end,” Kulkarni said, “and that we were able to help so many people.”

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  • O

    OmarSep 9, 2023 at 9:49 pm

    Great article and an ever better cause!

  • Q

    QadirSep 9, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    Good research and very comprehensive report
    In short words, really appreciateable,and good effort, keep it up. In future