Hurricane Florence put the brakes on the sports schedule in Eastern North Carolina in a big way.
The southern counties in WNCT-TV’s viewing area were hit the hardest. There is no telling when some of those counties will get back in school and back to playing games.
Greenville and East Carolina dodged a real bullet with Hurricane Florence. It was a nasty four days of wind and rain, but Greenville was certainly spared for the most part.
The Pirate football team bolted town for Florida last Wednesday to get ahead of the storm. There was some criticism from Blacksburg, as Tech officials wanted to wait another 24 hours before calling the game.
I don’t think it would have mattered. The Pirates did the right thing by leaving town and getting out of harm’s way. This team still left friends and family behind, and so even though the players were safe, there were still worries.
Head coach Scottie Montgomery and his staff recruit North Carolina the hardest. So many of these players had to check in with family during the storm, especially players from the southern counties of Eastern North Carolina.
Coach Mo spoke to the media for the first time via the American’s coach’s conference call on Monday morning.
“We’re dealing with a lot of issues with some of our players and their families, as we recruit our area very hard,” Montgomery told writers during the call. “It’s great to be with each other and have the connectedness to be surrounded by each other and the brotherhood of our teammates. So many people think about just what’s going on with our student-athlete and just what’s going on with school. Our school is not back yet, of course right now. A lot of people only think about that, but we have to realize there is circumstance where family members are connected to it as well. So, we’re trying to help and mentor all of our kids through this difficult situation.
“But we’re focused. We have a great opponent this week. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Terrell Smith is the Assistant Athletics Director for Football Operations for Coach Montgomery. Smith was my guest on my radio show on Pirate Radio 1250 and 930 on Monday night.
“We are all doing fine,” said Smith. “The guys are working hard and hopefully we’ll bring a win over USF back to Greenville.”
Smith said that all of the players have talked to their individual families. The worst news came from Trevon Brown’s mother, who lost her home in Wilmington in the flooding.
“Trevon’s mom got out early and she’s fine,” Smitty added. “Trevon is also in good spirits, despite the loss.”
Coach Montgomery took time to offer up a special message to all of Eastern North Carolina:
“We’re praying for you every day. As a team, we’re praying for you at the beginning of practice and at the end of practice. You guys are heavily on our minds because you are our family, you are our support system. We’re praying for you and we know that there’s situations that will become better and there’s situations that will take a lot of work to get back through. But we’ve been through things like this before. We saw it happen a few years ago. We returned stronger, I know we will return stronger now. We have to endure through times like this. Our team is playing with a lot of confidence right now; we’re practicing with a lot of confidence right now. So, we’re trying to go out and put together a great performance on the field for you guys. We love every part of Eastern North Carolina.”
It’s a much different week, not being able to see the guys at practice as they prepare for Saturday’s game in Tampa with AAC heavyweight South Florida.
Hopefully things will get back to normal next week as the Pirates prepare to host Old Dominion.