Meet The Pirates

ECU Dance Team signs autographs for Taylor Herendeen and daughter, Danna herendeen.

East Carolina University fans, whether they were students, alumni or community members were given the opportunity to meet their favorite ECU athletes on Saturday in Minges Coliseum after impending weather relocated the event from Dowdy Ficklen Stadium.

“It’s all about the fans, our fans are the lifeblood of our program. They are so important to everything that we do, student fans, alumni fans, Pirate fans all over the world,” ECU Athletics Chief Operating Officer Lee Workman said. “On Saturday (game days) they see the helmets and the jerseys, but this event gives them the chance to come and meet the young men and women of the teams and get to know them, establish a personal relationship with them.”

ECU Athletics has been doing Meet the Pirates for the past 30 years. Meet the Pirates started underneath the stadium where fans got to eat a meal with the team. The event has since gotten bigger, and has changed into what it is now.

Even though Meet the Pirates is supposed to be about the fans, Workman believes that events such as this also gives the athletes a feeling of confidence when they have to play in front of the home crowd because of the atmosphere they get when fans all over are chanting “Purple, gold, purple, gold.”

“What our fans do to create noise and support our teams create a home field advantage that gives us an advantage over the opposing team,” Workman said. “Meet the Pirates is about the fans getting to know them, and when they come out and we get in the arena to play games, it’s about that home field advantage, that’s how they make a difference whether as Pirate club members, or season ticket holders.”

Over time, what the Pirates have done at Meet the Pirates has changed. As more and more people began to show up and support the Pirates, according to Workman the University had to accommodate to the growth in attendance.

Previously at Meet the Pirates, fans could be recorded and put on the scoreboard. Now fans get to have autographs signed for them from every fall sport. For pirate alumni Dr. Billy Smith who graduated in 1996 and 2000, experiencing something like Meet the Pirates gives him a chance to reminisce about his time as a Pirate as well as show off his ECU pride.

“We get to feel more of a part of the team like we are part of the family which helps build community,” ECU alumni Dr. Billy Smith said. “We can have a connection that says like that’s my player there. Just like for us, back when there was a guy named Greg LeFever, we always wore his shirt, didn’t know the guy from anything but we picked him as our player, and three, four or five of us would wear his shirt every time.”

Meet the Pirates also drew out people which had not been to the event before. Whether it was because of family members, friends or the mere excitement for the upcoming season, the first-time goers got a sense of how other Pirate fans feel on a weekly basis when it comes to supporting their athletes. For senior hospitality management major Anthony Johnson this event gave him a better feel of who the athletes are off the field.

“My friends were coming to this event so I decided to join and see what this event was all about, and have some fun as well,” Johnson said. “I was able to have more direct contact with them than just seeing them on TV or in the stands.”

Now that fans got a chance to meet their athletes whether for football, or volleyball, they are now ready and anticipating the first home games which are set to begin after Labor Day weekend.

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