Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather

ECU News, Notes and Commentary

The Bradsher Beat
Friday, June 24, 2005

By Bethany Bradsher

Summer camps mold budding Pirates


When 10-year-old David Breece signed up to attend the East Carolina Football Camp, he made the commitment even though it looked like none of his friends from Fayetteville would be able to join him.

Just two days before the camp was to begin on June 12, that all changed when five of his friends decided they wanted to come along with David. His mother Ginny Breece tried to call the football office that Friday afternoon but was unable to reach anyone. So she called information in an attempt to contact Clifford Snow, the new director of football operations, and she reached him at home.

“I called and said, ‘Can I bring six kids?” said Breece, who was sending his son for his first overnight camp ever. “He couldn’t have been nicer. When we arrived on Sunday, he came up to us and said, ‘Are you the Fayetteville group?’ ”

Ginny Breece, whose father Charles Smith played football for ECU in the late '60s, is just one Eastern North Carolinian who got to know some of the new Pirate coaches this month through one of the ECU sports camps. The new leadership can only hope that victories during the season are as plentiful as satisfied summer campers.

“I had a wonderful experience,” Breece said. “I felt good leaving the boys there.”

While Snow and the rest of the football staff were reaching out to prospective football players on one part of campus, the new basketball coaches were leading their own drills with young hoopsters in Minges Coliseum. Heather Eveleth’s seven-year-old son Lanier was one of the youngest boys there, and she was impressed with the accessibility of the coaches.

“I felt like they were just available, if you had questions,” Eveleth said. “They were just hands-on. Coach Stokes was so awesome with the kids. He was very caring, wanting to know them.”

Over on the football practice field, Lori Holden knew something about watching out for the little guy. As an employee of the ECU football department, Holden already knew and trusted the coaches with her eight-year-old son Josh. She was also perfectly situated to check in on him from time to time.

“I was very impressed on how the coaches made him feel like part of the team, even though he was the littlest,” Holden said. “They treated all the younger kids as if they were their own.”

Brian Summers of Greenville sent two of his sons to the ECU basketball camp, and he was pleased at the emphasis the coaches and other instructors placed on the values that aren’t directly related to on-the-court skills.

“I felt like they taught them more than just basketball,” Summers said of Mitchell, 13, and Matt, 9. “Good sportsmanship was emphasized.”

On one hand, staffing the youth camps takes time that coaches could be using for recruiting or plotting out schemes for the fall, but ECU offensive line coach Steve Shankweiler said that the camps actually serve the program in several ways. First, they allow coaches to return to the foundation of their craft by teaching fundamentals to young boys, and they can even use the camp as a setting to experiment with new drills or coaching techniques.

Another benefit of the camps is their potential to enrich ECU’s recruiting efforts, Shankweiler said. Summer campers should also be viewed as would-be Pirates, and when they spend time on campus and interact with the coaches they get a favorable view of the program — and coaches get a good look at their abilities.

Shankweiler’s son Kort, now a fullback for ECU, grew up attending football camps when Shankweiler worked for Steve Logan, and the experience was not only an important component of his football development but also a source of great memories.

“When I think back to him growing up, he looked forward to that more than anything he did,” Shankweiler said.

The basketball program, with its smaller recruiting classes, may not get many players from summer camps, but assistant coach Jeremy Shyatt said that the June event gave the coaches a chance to give back to the community. On June 11, the coaches also got to watch dozens of area high school players in action during the Team Camp One-Day Jamboree, which featured local teams in a round-robin format.

Shyatt, who organized the camp with fellow assistant Larry Dixon, said that the coaches put a priority on communicating with the moms and dads who were dropping off their sons and giving them an opportunity to watch the action on the court.

“You’ve got a lot of parents who have a vested interest in Pirate basketball and want to see how stuff is done,” said Shyatt, who also grew up with summer camps as the son of former Clemson coach and current Florida assistant coach Larry Shyatt.

As the mother of 8-year-old basketball camper Nate, Margaret Turner placed a premium on the fact that the coaches sought out the parents who lingered in Minges Coliseum. Stokes, in fact, approached Turner and some other campers’ mothers one day and told them that the true test of a camp’s success is whether the moms are pleased.

“He just continually asked, ‘Are the boys having a good time?’” Turner said of Stokes. “One night my husband asked Nate, ‘How is the camp on a scale of fun, really fun or really, really fun?’ He said it was really, really fun.”

Send an e-mail message to Bethany Bradsher.

Click here to dig into Bethany Bradsher's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 01:11:27 AM

©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.