Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather

Special Preview

Bonesville Magazine, Vol. III, Teaser No. 3
Saturday, August 14, 2004
By Ron Cherubini
Staff Feature Writer


Lessons learned from a young football Pirate

By Ron Cherubini

Pat Dye reflects on all things East Carolina
Florida contingent looking to spark era of success
Lessons learned from a young football Pirate

Order Bonesville Magazine Online Now!

Bonesville Magazine

• PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact

• Recruit Profiles
• Rookie Books
• Tracking the Classes
• Florida Pipeline
• NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again


• 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 years.

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 — “friends.”

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 wait.

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.

Send an e-mail message to Ron Cherubini.

Click here to dig into Ron Cherubini's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 02:07:00 PM

©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.