NEWS, NOTES &
The Bradsher Beat
Friday, March 28, 2008
By Bethany Bradsher
Epiphany: It's more than a
All rights reserved.
Forgive me if I wax a little philosophical
today. It’s Thursday’s fault, not mine.
Thursday dawned as a fairly ordinary day. Spring
Break, the kids out of school, keeping a friend’s baby, PB and J for lunch.
A collection of the everyday moments that make up my every day.
Then, early in the afternoon, I walked out front
to discover that our first baby, our 13-year-old golden retriever Crockett,
had died in the flower bed. And the day spiraled into reminiscence and
When we brought Crockett home as a beautiful
6-week-old pup, we had just bought our first house, and parenthood still
seemed like a distant probability. After nearly two years of Crockett
training us in responsibility, we welcomed our first daughter, and three
more children followed in the next eight years.
The year I got my first puppy, I was a full-time
sportswriter in Spartanburg, covering the maiden season of the Carolina
Panthers. East Carolina was a school I had only heard of in passing. My life
as Crockett’s owner has spanned not only four children, but a career arc
that took me to freelancing and to chronicling the Pirates for more than
Which brings me to the perspective of Thursday,
and the reason I can’t seem to manage a typical column of Pirate Nation
events. Crockett’s death has caused me to put on the wide-angle lens and
consider the dizzying number of small events that make up any slice of our
My relationship with my kids is the sum total of
thousands of books read, disciplines doled out, meals fixed and puzzles
assembled on the kitchen floor. Just one season in one athletic program at
East Carolina is a collage of drills in practice, recruiting phone calls,
laps run and barbells lifted.
In less than a decade covering ECU, I’ve talked
to two athletic directors, three football coaches, three basketball coaches
and three baseball coaches. Every one of those administrative changes has
brought angst from fans and players — before, during and after the
Yet, even that press conference announcing their
departure from or their hiring to ECU is just one cog in the wheel of their
life as a coach, and their coaching role is simply one facet of who they
We make coaches’ professions all important, we
coat their identity with the team they currently represent, but in fact many
of them have more perspective on the fleeting nature of those team colors
than anyone around them.
You would glean some wisdom from the coaching
carousel if you sat down with Mack McCarthy, who heard good news from ECU
last week about his designation as the true, not interim, head basketball
coach. McCarthy has survived in college coaching for nearly a quarter of a
century, and he is still a genuinely nice person who seems to hold loosely
the promotions and contracts that come his way.
Driving into my neighborhood Thursday evening, I
saw some yard signs that said, “Congratulations, Coach Mack!” that
McCarthy’s neighbors displayed as a show of support. I’ve never seen a
gesture like that before, and Greenville’s coaching tumult has provided
plenty of opportunities.
I’m sure that when Mack saw the signs, he read
significance not as much in their message as in the fact that someone had
bothered to make them at all.
Like one of those photo mosaics that shows a big
image made up of thousands of tiny ones, McCarthy is a microcosm of what
makes sports connect with so many people. For fans, coaches and players the
world of sports is a jumble of tiny — sometimes amazing — moments that, when
assembled, create relationships and memories that far outlast the emotions
of that blink.
The thing that makes sports significant is the
combination of heart-racing experiences and people with whom to share them.
McCarthy values both.
And even though his profession exalts “One
Shining Moment” as the ultimate highlight, McCarthy knows that in coaching —
just as in dog owning — it’s the combination of the parts that makes the art
So next week, I’ll go back to recapping those
everyday Pirate moments, because of course they do add up.
Send an e-mail message to Bethany Bradsher.
Dig into Bethany Bradsher's
03/28/2008 01:44:09 AM