Published 7:36 pm Thursday, August 28, 2008
Football season is here!
For those of us who love East Carolina football, we are like children on Christmas morning. The sights and sounds around Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on a football Saturday are unparalleled in this Pirate’s opinion.
Game days start with tailgating. Tailgating has become not just a tradition but also an art form. You can walk around the stadium on game day and see all kinds of different tailgating scenes. Tailgating has become much more than laying down the tailgate on one’s truck and picking up a box of chicken. People plan all year long on how they will set up their tailgating area for the season and what their menus will be for the games. In the South, we take our tailgating seriously, and ECU is no exception. I could write a whole article on tailgating, and I may do so at some time. If you have not been to a game in Greenville lately, I would suggest getting there early and partaking of the tailgating activities. It is an event to itself. Oh, the fall days at the stadium. I know I can’t wait.
What do the Pirates have facing them this season? This season, the Pirates have high expectations, but they will have a tough schedule to get through. The Pirates open up the season in Charlotte on Saturday at noon for an ESPN nationally televised event against the Virginia Tech Hokies. Our first home game the next week gets no easier as the West Virginia Mountaineers come to Greenville for a 4:30 p.m. kickoff. That is two top 15 teams in the first two weeks of the year. Other notable out-of-conference games this year are Sept. 20 against N.C. State in Raleigh and Oct. 11 against Virginia in Charlottesville. The remaining home games will be against CUSA foes Houston, Memphis, Marshall and UTEP. The Pirates will be on the road against CUSA opponents Tulane, Central Florida, Southern Miss, and UAB. I have heard coach Skip Holtz say on many occasions when he is thinking about the schedules that Athletics Director Terry Holland has set up for the next few years that he sleeps like a baby. He wakes up crying all through the night.
How important is it to support ECU football and all of its athletic programs? I say it is very important. There are five to six home games each year in Greenville. Because of those weekends, Pirate football has a $24,000,000 annual economic impact here in eastern North Carolina. I know that our Washington Tourism Development Authority has been working to attract some of the fans coming to Greenville for football games to make their way here to Washington. With Washington being a short drive from Greenville, we have an opportunity to fill our motels, restaurants and stores. College football is becoming big business. We have a special opportunity to reap the economic benefits of East Carolina athletics here in Washington and Beaufort County.
I encourage our business owners to show support for the Pirates by displaying Pirate merchandise and/or by flying an ECU flag outside their businesses on game weeks. We can turn Washington and Beaufort County purple. Let’s see the car flags out on Fridays and people wearing their purple on Fridays, too! We also need to financially support the athletics program at ECU. The best way to support ECU athletics is by joining the ECU Educational Foundation, better known as the Pirate Club. Funds raised by the Pirate Club from alumni, fans and friends go to help fund scholarships for Pirate student-athletes, athletic-facility improvements and other needs for the university’s Division I athletics program. Whether one attended East Carolina or not, by virtue of living here, the university in our region, East Carolina University, needs to be supported.
The future is very bright for ECU athletics, and we need to hop on the train before it leaves the station.
See you at Dowdy-Ficklen!