ECU News, Notes and Commentary
Thursday, August 4, 2005
By Bethany Bradsher
New breed of armchair QB's
in the wings
consider East Carolina football their own macho domain might find themselves
in a strange new world this season. Thanks to the football coaching staff,
some 50 women will watch the Pirates with a new level of understanding come
they hope will become an annual event, head coach Skip Holtz and his
assistants hosted their first Ladies Football Clinic Saturday morning at the
Murphy Center. The objective? To turn casual Saturday observers into true
Ferguson, the actual game has been secondary to tailgating, and she rarely
stayed in her seat for all four quarters. But her husband Grier, a faithful
ECU fan, suggested that she travel to Greenville from their home in Suffolk,
VA, for the clinic. The experience will change the way she looks at future
football outings, she said.
would go into the game for a few minutes and just say, ho-hum, and then go
back out to where we were tailgating,” said Ferguson, who was a cheerleader
for ECU in the ‘70s. “Now, I can actually watch the game and recognize a
couple of plays.”
of devoting a day to women came to Greenville from South Carolina, where
coaches like Holtz and Phil Petty helped lead a similar event that went from
100 to 1,800 participants in just a few years, said Petty, now the ECU
to say, it got pretty popular, so much so that the husbands got jealous,”
exclusivity of the women’s clinic is exactly what made the ECU version so
appealing, Ferguson said. As each position coach gave a short talk about his
area of specialty the women could ask the types of questions they would
never bring up in the presence of husbands or boyfriends.
single one of them talked down to us,” she said. “They really tried to teach
us about the game. No question was too stupid.”
just lecturing about the fine points of gridiron management, the coaches
turned some of their lessons into hands-on demonstrations. Kathy Harley,
whose son Scott played for the Pirates in the ‘90s, got a much better grasp
of football strategy through the clinic’s unique teaching methods, she said.
actually put chairs up front for an offense, and they had randomly selected
women from the audience to sit in those chairs,” Harley said. “Then they
explained different formations, and they had the women in the chairs walk
through the plays.”
Everett already has a working knowledge of football, both as a fan and as an
employee in the Pirates Club office. But Saturday’s activities increased her
familiarity both of the sport and of the new coaches. She is already
thinking of friends that she will invite next year, she said.
comfortable with the sport of football, but there were a lot of women there
who obviously knew nothing,” Everett said. “And they were comfortable
letting their lack of knowledge show.”
Flake, who interacts with coaches and athletes in the athletic business
office, opted to attend the clinic so that she could gain a better
understanding of ECU football as an employee and a fan. She said that her
eyes were opened to the intricacy of the sport.
all of us, I think, a new respect for the players,” Flake said. “That was an
awakening for everybody as to how involved and complicated it can be.”
weren’t learning the difference between clipping and holding, the women
soaked up a few experiences that are sure to incite envy from the men in the
Pirate Nation. They ran through the purple haze to the strains of Jimi
Hendrix (“The smoke was cold,” Everett said), and those that wanted to could
try on a Pirate uniform — complete with pads.
lot of fun,” said Petty, who was the chief organizer of the inaugural ECU
event. “The main thing is, it’s their day.”
experience was so compelling for Harley that it carried out of the Murphy
Center and into her errand-running that afternoon, she said. She stopped for
some groceries at Lowe’s Foods and saw some of her new fellow football
experts pushing their own carts nearby.
calling down the aisle, quizzing each other,” she said.
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