Bonesville Magazine, Vol.
III, Teaser No. 3
Saturday, August 14, 2004
By Ron Cherubini
from a young football Pirate
By Ron Cherubini
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• PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact
• INSIDE PIRATE FOOTBALL
• Recruit Profiles
• Rookie Books
• Tracking the Classes
• Florida Pipeline
• NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again
• HIGH HOPES FOR HOOPS
• STEVE BALLARD:
New Leader Takes Charge
• SCOTT COWEN: Busting Down the Door
• KEITH LECLAIR on ECU's Field of Dreams
• BETH GRANT: Actress Still a Pirate
The other day, I was on the
phone with Steven Belford. Steven, as most Pirate football fans have already
known for months now, is a fast, rangy defensive end who is part of the
incoming freshman class. He was a star at Lake Worth High School and his
former prep coach calls him an absolute steal for the Pirates.
It was the second time I had
given him a buzz over the past several weeks, just to follow up on some
logistics about his Bonesville Magazine profile. He gave me the
information I was seeking and then, before I would normally thank him and
get off the phone, he asked, “Did you go to East Carolina?”
I don’t normally get all that
personal with the players that I interview, but he sounded eager to hear as
much as he could about my experiences in Greenville, the place this young
player, barely 18 years of age, will call home for the next four to five
I told him about my reasons
for choosing East Carolina over a couple of ACC schools in the state, which
included that feeling of being home again that so many new students — and
alums — point out. I pointed out that I met my wife there and that there is
just something about the spirit permeating the school — its buildings and
surroundings — that makes a person feel happy… and, above all, I wanted to
be happy in college.
He listened, quietly. When I
was finished, I obliged the question to him, “How are you feeling now about
ECU with just over a month before you report?”
He said he was excited and
nervous and eager and worried. He said he can’t wait to put on the football
gear for his collegiate team. He is nervous about being the player he wants
to be as soon as he can. He is eager to be on his own for the first time and
he is worried about being on his own for the first time.
He sounded wide-eyed and
young… young. Most off all, he had no real — or at least apparent —
pre-conceived notions about his future, except that he was damn excited to
be among those going to Greenville.
After the call… I thought
about it, no pre-conceptions… hmmmm.
Here was a kid, who so many
ECU football fans have already dissected in every possible manner from
academics to athletics. To him, last year’s 1-11 record could just as well
had been 11-1 and he wouldn’t have even known the difference, I expect. He
has no inkling of whether or not he should have been recruited over a North
Carolinian, no worry about whom the athletic director is going to be, no
idea of the feuds with Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Durham... he knows little if
anything about the former football coach.
ALL he knows is that ECU
wanted him and he wanted to be a Pirate.
All he knows is that he wants
to play well and please the fans both in Greenville and back at home in
Florida. To him, John Thompson is the ONLY East Carolina coach that matters.
To him, he can’t wait to call his new teammates — in-state and out-of-state
He is nervous because he wants
to be a good student and he knows how tough the collegiate curriculum is… he
has never even heard of “EZU.” To him, it is a big-time college and he can’t
It was refreshing to talk to
this young man about his future. And that is the big point here, isn’t it?
These are just kids coming to college for the first time. Maybe a few are
more aware of ECU’s history than others, but most — like all teen-agers —
aren’t all that concerned with the past.
They will, in a couple of
years, when the program truly rests on their shoulders, bear the weight of
their team’s place in Pirates history. But for now, they are just kids,
wide-eyed and a little nervous looking ahead with tunnel vision.
We, the fans, some of us
former jocks — greater now in our memories than we ever were on the field —
are a little more complicated.
We bank on these boys to
uphold our honor on the field… to settle our differences with those we work
with daily who were educated in the Triangle. We argue and complain and
choose sides based on our own stilted pre-conceptions of the “state of the
program” or the quality of the leadership or the conspiracy de jour.
All the time we grownups argue
and complain, these kids — not restricted by excuses — are pouring out
everything they have — not for us, really — but because it’s fun for them.
Sure they want to win and be champions. They want to be cheered and many,
because they are boys, truly believe that ECU is just a stop on their road
to the NFL. Good for them! That dream has been shared by many of us, for
sure, whether our exit came in an NFL camp, college, high school, or on a
Pop Warner team (where I speculate most of our careers really ended).
It took Steven Belford, a
nobody yet on this Pirates team, to clue me in to something that is plain as
day. Not to borrow too much from comedian George Carlin’s theory on global
warming, but really, all of us place so much self-importance on our
contributions to the football program at ECU. I got news for us all: The ECU
program isn’t going anywhere, we are. Count out how many seasons you may
have left. A 40 year old guy will be lucky to ride the ups and downs of the
ECU football program maybe 38 more times, if he makes the average life
expectancy for a male (by Social Security estimates). That ain’t a whole lot
of time to enjoy one of our favorite pastimes. Yet, there will be football
at ECU in 2104 just as there is today.
For me, at least this week, I
am excited purely about the upcoming football season. John Thompson is my
coach, all of my players are beloved, Florida or North Carolina
notwithstanding, I don’t care nor do I even give a thought to what they are
doing or saying in Raleigh or Chapel Hill or Durham. I know a great athletic
director will soon be in place. Today, I am a proud Pirate, thinking like a
kid again, counting the days till ECU kicks off another football season.
Thanks Steve… I can’t wait to
see you play.
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02/23/2007 02:07:00 PM