Tradition stirs athletes with the first step to the merge

Elkhart Memorial athletes express mixed feelings about being recognized with Central athletes at the annual Kick-Off Classic.

Members+of+the+Elkhart+Community+enjoy+the+festivities+offered+by+the+annual+Elkhart+Education+Foundation+Kick-Off+Classic+at+Central+Park+in+Elkhart+on+Saturday%2C+Aug.+24.+Mixed+emotions+arose+when+student+athletes+were+recognized+during+a+pep-rally+as+united+Elkhart+teams%2C+rather+than+separate+teams%2C+one+year+ahead+of+the+merge.+
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Tradition stirs athletes with the first step to the merge

Members of the Elkhart Community enjoy the festivities offered by the annual Elkhart Education Foundation Kick-Off Classic at Central Park in Elkhart on Saturday, Aug. 24. Mixed emotions arose when student athletes were recognized during a pep-rally as united Elkhart teams, rather than separate teams, one year ahead of the merge.

Members of the Elkhart Community enjoy the festivities offered by the annual Elkhart Education Foundation Kick-Off Classic at Central Park in Elkhart on Saturday, Aug. 24. Mixed emotions arose when student athletes were recognized during a pep-rally as united Elkhart teams, rather than separate teams, one year ahead of the merge.

Dana Ibarra

Members of the Elkhart Community enjoy the festivities offered by the annual Elkhart Education Foundation Kick-Off Classic at Central Park in Elkhart on Saturday, Aug. 24. Mixed emotions arose when student athletes were recognized during a pep-rally as united Elkhart teams, rather than separate teams, one year ahead of the merge.

Dana Ibarra

Dana Ibarra

Members of the Elkhart Community enjoy the festivities offered by the annual Elkhart Education Foundation Kick-Off Classic at Central Park in Elkhart on Saturday, Aug. 24. Mixed emotions arose when student athletes were recognized during a pep-rally as united Elkhart teams, rather than separate teams, one year ahead of the merge.

Felisha Campanello, News Editor

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On Saturday, Aug. 24, students and athletes from Elkhart Memorial and Central attended the fifth annual Elkhart Education Foundation (EEF) Kick-Off Classic. 

As usual, games and activities were offered for all ages including bounce houses for the younger kids and a lip sync battle for students and teachers.

Traditionally, athletes from both schools are recognized with their team during the event. At the 2018 Kick-Off Classic, for example, Central and Memorial teams were recognized independently, so this is what athletes were expecting. But that isn’t what happened.

At around 8:00 that evening, the athletes from Memorial and Central were instructed to run out in front of the crowd, together as one, leaving some of the athletes feeling surprised and disappointed. 

Senior Kaitlin Presswood was one of those athletes. She expressed that she was looking forward to being recognized with her team for the last time her senior year. 

It’s our last year as Memorial Volleyball and I wanted to run out with my teammates. There will be many years to come when everyone can run out together and I wanted to embrace the last year of Memorial Volleyball.”

— Senior Kaitlin Presswood

During an interview with Co-Founder & Executive Director of EEF, Ashley Molyneaux, she said that coaches who helped plan the pep rally came up with the idea because they felt that asking the athletes to run out as one showed unity, and they wanted to support the merge. 

Some athletes supported this decision and expressed that it made them excited for the future of Elkhart Athletics. 

Junior Jaylen Holmes, a defensive tackle on the Elkhart Memorial Football team said, “Running out with Central didn’t feel as if we were divided. It felt like we were together, which is a good head start for the big merge.” 

At the start of the next school year, even though the buildings will not yet be physically combining, the athletic program will run under the name Elkhart High, meaning that Elkhart Memorial and Elkhart Central athletics will officially be one.

Check out the photo gallery below for a recap of the night’s events: