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The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, June 17, 2009

By Bethany Bradsher

Creative cures for the summertime blues

By Bethany Bradsher
All rights reserved.

For all of summerís many rewards, this season can spell doldrums for college sports fans. The excitement associated with following the home team's week to week athletic pursuits is temporarily suspended.

Two short weeks ago, East Carolina fans were reveling in one of the most exciting nights in memory. This week, the Pirate Nation has a choice of discussing the pros and cons of the newly-announced football kickoff times or speculating whether Oakland Athletics draft pick Kyle Roller will play in the Dominican Republic, Arizona or Vancouver.

So, as a public service, here are some other suggested diversions for ECU fans who need a college sports break between beach vacations and trips to the pool:

  • Plan a grand training camp tour to all of the sites where former Pirates will be preparing for the NFL season. Itís a trip that will take you to Westminster, MD (Davon Drew with the Ravens), Englewood, CO (Stanley Bryant with the Broncos), Clarksville, TN (Chris Johnson with the Titans), River Falls, WI (Terrance Copper with the Chiefs) and five other cities.

    The Chiefs are Copperís third NFL home since October. He started the 2008 season with the Saints, was released in late October and then signed by the Ravens, and then signed with Kansas City when the Ravens let him go. As a Chief, he is one of the few NFL players left who will actually travel out of town to a college campus for training camp this summer. This will be the Chiefsí final year at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls before the team moves to Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, MO.

    I get a little sad every time I hear about a professional team that is holding training camp in or near its home city instead of on some far-flung college campus. I covered the Panthers in 1995 and 1996 and, as a sportswriter for the Spartanburg, SC, paper, I was a fixture at the teamís Wofford College training camp. And I can tell you that there is absolutely nothing like seeing a 320-pound lineman move into a dorm room to share his space with his 308-pound roommate.

  • Challenge yourself to come within shouting distance of the top performances of East Carolinaís incoming track and field class. The recruits include long jumper Tynita Butts, who has jumped 20-4.5 feet, Tiffany Harris, who has run 55.64 in the 400-meter run and Kenneth Rowland, who has thrown a shot put 61-8.0 feet. In all, the Pirates signed 22 new athletes this spring, and head coach Curt Kraft called it the best recruiting class in recent memory.

  • Start calling summer your personal offseason, and come up with your own strength and conditioning regimen. If you want to look like a true Pirate, you should carry around a binder with detailed workout plans, goals and nutrition tips, like the ones carried home each summer by athletes who arenít required to stay on campus. If you want a sniff of the season according to an ECU football player, you could stage your own Ironman competition to coincide with the annual Fourth of July block party. Just make sure you watch the small children when itís time to roll the giant truck tires.

  • Prepare an elaborate display counting down the days to the football season opener on September 5. Try mowing the number of days into your front lawn, or perhaps flashing your car headlights the appropriate number of times when you drive home each night. You could even get your kids and try to catch the right number of fireflies in a jar. Todayís number is 79. Be creative.

So donít let the dog days get you down. Chad Tracy should be off of the disabled list and back at first base with the Diamondbacks any day now, former Pirate Madison Keller is on the roster with the Washington Freedom of the Womenís Professional Soccer League and five Pirate baseball players are playing in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League.

You might have to search a little harder, but the Pirates are out there.

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06/17/2009 02:35:01 AM

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