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ECU News, Notes and Commentary

The Bradsher Beat
Thursday, July 28, 2005

By Bethany Bradsher

'Tis the season of comings, goings at ECU


East Carolina’s big-name game of musical chairs concluded in March when Ricky Stokes was hired as hoops coach, but at a lower tier the parade of departing and arriving Pirates continues.

Even though Randy Mazey has more longevity than any other revenue sport head coach, his assistant coach positions have been in a state of flux for months. The Diamond Bucs’ swing at a postseason run in Tucson had no sooner ended than long-time hitting coach Allen Osborne announced his departure for the University of Georgia.

Less than a week later, pitching coach Tommy Eason stepped down from his ECU post. On July 11, Eason was named the new head coach at Pitt Community College.

Mazey filled both posts quickly, with Scott Forbes coming on as hitting coach and Billy Godwin to work with the pitchers. But before he could even get settled in on campus, Forbes announced that he was taking the pitching coach job at UNC-Chapel Hill instead.

With Wednesday’s hiring of Link Jarrett as the new hitting coach and recruiting coordinator, Mazey has hopefully stopped the dizzying rotation on his staff. Jarrett, a former Florida State player, comes from Mercer University, where he served as an assistant for two seasons.

Osborne and Eason both inspired plenty of loyalty among the players that have advanced to the NCAA playoffs for seven consecutive years, so one of Godwin's and Jarrett’s chief tasks will be to align with Mazey in a way that captures the players’ hearts to build a winning 2006 version of the squad.

If Mazey wants to talk to a colleague about retaining consistency in the wake of exiting assistants, he should go see Rick Kobe. The head coach of the men’s and women’s swim teams, who has presided over the Pirates in the pool for 23 years, has reason to be proud of the regular turnover on his staff: More often than not his ex-assistants turn into head coaches elsewhere.

When Chris Feaster accepted the head position at James Madison University on July 12, he was the 10th former Kobe swimmer or assistant to take the top job with a college program. Other former ECU swimming products include Bill Roberts at the U.S. Naval Academy and McGee Moody at William and Mary.

“That’s what they come in here to do,” said Kobe, who has coached 23 NCAA qualifiers and four All-Americans. “He (Feaster) actually was here longer than most.”

Kobe has promoted Matt Jabs into the head assistant position vacated by Feaster, and he is conducting a national search for the second assistant’s position, he said.

Some of the athletes under the direction of Kobe and Feaster also have a new position this summer, if only temporarily. Five current or graduated Pirate swimmers are coaching Pitt County summer swim teams, working with kids between the ages of five and 17.

The Greenville Area Summer Swim League posted a notice at the Mingles pool in the spring in an effort to recruit experienced coaches, and it’s a natural summer job for the swimmers. Lauren Havard, who works with the Gold’s Gym team, said that she had planned on finding a witnessing job but found that she couldn’t stay away from the pool deck.

“I think it’s giving back to what makes you love the sport, just trying to spark a fire in another kid,” said Havard, a rising junior from Fairfax, Va. “It’s such a great sport. You can swim for life.”

The other youth coaches from ECU are graduate (and three-time ECU Swimmer of the Year) Diane Parker at Ironwood, Parker Bostick at Ironwood, Adrienne Williams at Cherry Oaks and Kelly Shinton at Farmville.

Sharing the leadership

After seven years of coaching both the men’s and women’s tennis teams, Tom Morris has given leadership of the men’s squad to Shawn Heinchon, who came to Greenville a year ago as an assistant coach.

Before joining the Pirates program, Heinchon spent six years as an assistant at Wake Forest, where he coached 10 All-Atlantic Coast Conference players and two ACC Rookies-of-the-Year.

“He is a proven assistant coach and already possesses the leadership and teaching qualities of a head coach,” Morris said in an ECU news release. “I’m looking forward to seeing the men’s team progress under his direction.”

Transition in soccer

ECU also has a new men’s soccer coach, at least until a national search can be conducted. On the same day that former head coach Michael Benn announced his departure to take an assistant’s job at alma mater Lehigh University, Chad Halverson was named as the Pirates’ interim head on Wednesday.

For the past two seasons, Halverson has served as an assistant coach under Benn at ECU, and before that he spent two seasons as assistant track and field coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Central Florida.

Benn’s predecessor, Devin O’Neill, left ECU for a Division III head coaching job at Gettysburg (Pa.) College, and Benn departed for an assistant’s position at Lehigh, a Division I school with an enrollment of 4,500.

January in the Tropics

Skip Holtz has already landed a berth in the postseason — for himself, that is.

For one day only, Holtz will be wearing a different hat after the conclusion of his first season at the helm of the Pirates. The American Football Coaches’ Association announced this week that Holtz would serve as an assistant coach in the Hula Bowl, the college all-star game scheduled for January 21, 2006 in Maui.

Along with Moravian head coach Scot Dapp, Holtz will assist head coach Tommy Tuberville of Auburn with the East squad. Washington head coach Tyrone Willingham will lead the West squad along with assistant Dick Tomey from San Jose State.

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02/23/2007 01:11:31 AM

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