From the Booth
Monday, October 14, 2002
By Jeff Charles
Voice of the Pirates
Four decades later, Leo's
'Century Club' in its prime
On Friday night, October 4, the East Carolina University
Educational Foundation, better known as the Pirate Club, celebrated it’s
Fortieth Anniversary. It was a gala event with over three hundred of ECU’s
biggest and best supporters in attendance.
The surroundings were plush — the beautiful new Murphy
Center — but the dress was casual and the food was hamburgers and hot dogs.
We’re not really a wine and cheese crowd here.
It was a fun evening that highlighted recognition of so many
wonderful people, who’ve dedicated many years of service to help the Pirate
Club, and thus the athletics program, grow to it’s present stature.
One only has to walk into the new facility and peer out of
the solid glass side facing Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium Bagwell Field to feel a
sense of pride and accomplishment.
Many folks gathered on the patio overlooking the freshly
manicured field and everyone was in agreement that ECU truly has outstanding
facilities now. I heard a couple of people say that the Murphy Center feels
like it’s been here for a long time because of the way it fits into the
scheme of things.
Some professional people really did a nice job of tying in
the stadium and Williams Arena Minges Coliseum with the new end zone
facility while landscaping the whole project to perfection. The area outside
the Murphy Center center is as impressive as the building itself inside.
The Pirate Club in it’s early years was known as the Century
club, and a handful of Greenville businessmen led by then Chancellor Leo
Jenkins started knocking on doors to solicit some much needed funds for
athletics. These guys were known as the “Greenville Mafia” and you get the
idea they were very passionate about their mission.
From that small group of men has evolved an organization
today that has 7,754 members who contributed 3.1 million dollars in support
The Pirate Club has raised more than twenty million dollars
in the last decade for two capital improvement projects, the expansion of
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium Bagwell Field and the Murphy Center. Nearing
completion is another six million dollar campaign for East Carolina’s new
The architect of this success is the Executive Director of
the Pirate Club, Dennis Young. Young is a 1969 ECU grad and football
letterman who realized a dream in 1991 to come back home and work for his
He must have thought, “Hey, this is going to be easy.”
Remember, 1991 was the greatest year in Pirate football history and there
was such incredible excitement that season which translated into a big time
growth spurt for the Pirate Club.
Athletics, as we all know, has its ebbs and flows, its good
times and its not so good times, it’s ups and downs. Just like any job, you
have to roll up your sleeves and work even harder during the tough times.
Every opportunity I get publicly I mention the outstanding
work ethic the people in the Pirate Club have. Dennis sets the pace. There’s
an old saying, “The speed of the leader, the speed of the pack.”
Young works tirelessly and with great passion, as does his
staff. Associate Director Mark Hessert came with Dennis in 1991. Everyone
knows Matt “Big Guy” Maloney and his legendary dedication to this program.
Mick Crawford is an ECU grad and Assistant Director. Pete Triebenbacher is
the computer guru and serves as the systems coordinator.
Three ladies round out Young's staff, Shannon Padrick, who
handles special projects, Beth Kirkland, data entry clerk and secretary
I’ve been around college athletics for twenty-three years
and I can assure you of one thing. No one in the country works harder in the
fund raising department than these folks. They pat a lot of people on the
back, and it was good to see them get a few pats on the back last Friday
night. Here’s to everyone in the Pirate Club, “You can paint this one
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