October is here and that can only mean one thing: Guilford County and the City of Greensboro facing off in football in the third annual Guilford Cup Challenge, the charity competition that pits the two local governments against each other in three sports – football, basketball and softball.
Or rather, October used to mean that sports battle got underway. There will be no Guilford Cup games this year because the city and county staff either didn’t have any desire to continue the new tradition or simply forgot about it.
This season would have been a rubber match: In the first year of the competition, the city swept all three events and, in the second, the county swept – after the Greensboro team was a no-show in the softball game in summer 2016. There was talk at that time of adding slower sports – such as golf and croquet – for those who were older but wanted to participate without risking injury, but those talks evaporated.
So it will remain a mystery which local government would have won this season and broken the standing tie.
Another mystery has been where the Guilford Cup trophy is.
The county is the current victor, however, the cup has never been on display in Guilford County buildings as it was in city hall when Greensboro won it and had possessed it for a year.
Guilford County Clerk to the Board Robin Keller and other county officials said they didn’t know where it was.
Guilford County Register of Deeds Jeff Thigpen, a baseball star at Guilford College, was instrumental in helping organize the county’s teams in the two Guilford Cup seasons, and he said that, though the competition is no more, it’s not truly dead. He said the participants – including Deputy County Manager Clarence Grier – have the memories and the scars to prove that.
“The cup lives on in the heads and hearts of the 2,400 county employees and the nine commissioners,” Thigpen said. “It lives on in Clarence’s rotator cup surgery.”
The Guilford Cup games were the brainchild of former Guilford County Commissioner Ray Trapp and former Greensboro City Councilmember Jamal Fox.
In April, Trapp stepped down to take a job with NC A&T State University, and, in July, Fox announced he was moving to Portland, Oregon.
The two men came up with the idea three years ago in an effort to increase comradery between the staffs and elected officials on both sides, as well as to raise money for local charities.
Thigpen said he remembers well the county’s final victory of the Guilford Cup – the forfeit of the city of the softball game last year.
That game was to take place at Gibson Park in High Point. However, days before the scheduled date, Thigpen got word the city would not be there. Thigpen said that he recalls, when the county was practicing for that softball game, Greensboro police cars were in the area frequently, showing great interest in those practices. Thigpen added that he did not want to speculate on whether the word got to the city through the police that the Greensboro team would get “shellacked” if they showed up.
“I can neither confirm nor deny that,” Thigpen said of that theory of the city’s forfeit.
In addition to allowing Greensboro and Guilford County staff and elected officials show off their athletic prowess, the series also raised money for charitable causes. In addition, supplies for Guilford County Schools were collected at some Guilford Cup events.
“It’s still a great concept,” he said of the now defunct competition.
Jake Keys, communications division manager for Greensboro, said the departure of the two main founders is the key factor in the death of the Guilford Cup.
“Jamal and Ray were instrumental in getting that started,” Keys said.
Thigpen concurred that that’s why the cup died after just two thrilling seasons.
“Ray is off the board; Jamal is off the City Council,” Thigpen said.
As to the whereabouts of the cup, Keys said city officials gave it to Trapp at a City Council meeting. He said the trophy transfer was televised so there’s irrefutable evidence the city handed it over to the victorious county, as it should have.
“The last we saw of it was in his hands,” he said.
When Trapp was contacted, he was able to solve the mystery as to the location of the trophy he was last seen with.
“It’s on my kitchen counter,” Trapp said. “I think we should change the name of it to ‘the Ray Trapp Cup.’”