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Special night connects fans to new era



• Event: 11th Annual Meet the Pirates Night
• Date: Saturday, August 13, 2005
• Time: 6 p.m. (North Gate opens at 5:30 p.m.)
• Location: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium
• Cost for Dinner Session:
           $10 for adults
           $5 for children 12 and under
           $5 for ECU students with ID's
• Cost for Photo and Autograph Session
           Free of charge


6 p.m. – Dinner will be served.
7 p.m. – Photo and autograph session at
             Bagwell Field in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium

Reservations for the event are required.

CONTACT INFORMATION: To purchase tickets, call (252) 328-4530. Checks may be mailed to: Meet The Pirates, ECU Sports Marketing, Ward Sports Medicine Building, Greenville, NC 27858.

By Ron Cherubini

In its 11 years of existence, East Carolina’s unofficial kickoff for the football season has been the Meet the Pirates event that occurs each summer. It might not be an overstatement to characterize this year’s event as the most anticipated renewal of the tradition since it began during the Steve Logan regime.

As much as the affair offers an opportunity for friends, fans, and family of the program to meet the players, it is also an opportunity for those players, along with the new coaching staff, the new athletics director, the new chancellor, and various support staff to meet the community they serve.

The annual shin-dig, which sprang from an NCAA rules change more than a decade ago that made it difficult for alumni and friends of the university to host a dinner with the players, has grown in participation each year. This time around it is expected that more than 750 meals will be served during the feast portion of the gathering.

“It seems to grow a little bit each year,” said Craig Curtis, Assistant Athletics Director for Marketing. “And, we seem to have more and more people come out for the autographs and pictures at the stadium.”

At the Saturday, Aug. 13 event, Coach Skip Holtz and his entire ECU football staff will be in attendance along with AD Terry Holland, Chancellor Steve Ballard — most important of all in the eyes most fans — the entire active roster for the 2005 football team.

Jeff Charles, the Voice of the Pirates, will be the Master of Ceremonies for the event.

After a short program and dinner, the event will move outside — weather permitting — to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, where the players and coaches will be available for autographs and photos.

And, it is that point, the players mixing with the community, that gives this event that unique ECU flavor.

“The players really look forward to this each year,” Curtis said. “It usually comes at a time when they have been in camp and two-a-days and it is a night that they look forward to as much as the community does.

“From our standpoint, we really make a point of having the players mingle throughout the crowd and fans. We make sure that they are scattered throughout the room for dinner. And our players have made it a point to make sure that everyone there that wants a picture or an autograph are accommodated.”

Curtis pointed out that most schools have events like Meet the Pirates but contends that the togetherness of the ECU community in relation to the team makes it an extra special event each year for the team and for the Pirate partisans in attendance, large and small.

“The little kids get an unforgettable experience,” he said. “When they get photographs and autographs, you can see it in their eyes… how excited they are.”

And it is not just the kids. For many ECU fans, it is a chance to meet the guys on whom they pin their purple passions.

“It really gets the football juices running for some of the fans,” Curtis said. “Everyone knows it won’t be long before the games are here.”

And, along with the fanfare there will be plenty of opportunities for ECU fans to take care of business like buying season tickets, signing up for the Pirate Club, purchasing the 2005 ECU football media guide and buying the latest ECU gear at a special promotional discount from the ECU Student Stores. All will be available on site at the event along with free posters and schedule cards.

Reservations for the event are required. To get tickets, call (252) 328-4530. Checks may be mailed to: Meet The Pirates, ECU Sports Marketing, Ward Sports Medicine Building, Greenville, NC 27858.

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02/23/2007 02:05:56 PM

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