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Dynamics beyond the sidelines


More Than a Game
Sunday, April 6, 2003
By Ron Cherubini
Staff Feature Writer


Students' voices being heard... and rewarded


Pirate Club Snapshot

Location: 3rd Floor of Ward Sports Medicine Building

Started: 1961-62 by Dr. Leo Jenkins as the Century Club

Membership: 8,000

Chapters: 43

States: NC, SC, VA, MD

Endowment: $6 million

Annual Scholarship support: Approximately $2.5 million/year

Recent key projects: The Murphy Center, The Baseball Stadium


Board of Directors for  2003-04:

Matthew T. Boykin, II - Greenville

Louis P. Forrest - Winston-Salem/Chocowinity

Grant Jarman - Greenville

Mark Meltzer - Greenville

Joseph L. Wallace - Sanford

Board of Directors for  2002-03:

Willard H. Colson, Jr. (Greenville)

Dennis G. Jones (Cary)

Tony R. Misenheimer (Rockwell)

D. Reid Tyler (Raleigh)

Samuel J. Wornom, III (Sanford)

Pirate Club Working Staff:

Executive Director: Dennis A. Young

Associate Director: Mark Hessert

Assistant Director: Mick Crawford

Assistant Director: Matt Maloney

Special Projects: Shannon A. Padrick

Secretary: LaTrenda S. Britt

Data Control: Beth Everett

Office assistant: Lisa Hagen

Systems Coordinator: Pete Triebenbacher

Legal Counsel: Walter Hinson

( Third in a three-part series about the inner workings of the Pirate Club )

Undergrads fired up about the cause


There are few better ways to ensure the future success of the East Carolina Pirate Club than to include the school's future alums now, before they actually graduate and leave the shadow of the University.

With that in mind, the Pirate Club has made the Student Pirate Club a strategic priority, with the goal being two-fold:

  • First, build an intense affinity for the athletic program within the student body. Make that enthusiasm a very visible presence at athletic events, and allow that energy to provide a constant stoke, through fiscal participation, to the steady burning fire of support that the Pirate Club keeps kindling.

  • Second, allow those student members to build value toward their future Pirate Club membership to ensure that each year the university graduates a core of plank PC members.

So far, so good says Pirate Club adviser to the Student Pirate Club Mick Crawford.

“We see it as a way to keep membership after graduation,” Crawford said. “The students are one of our life bloods. The Student Pirate Club is a way of getting them involved early.”

The growth of the Student Pirate Club over the last two years is illustrative of the focus that has been put on this faction of support.

“It was about 250 when I first got here,” Crawford said of the total membership. “We just kind of tweaked it a little.”

They did a little more than tweak it. The membership is now a burgeoning 1,200 plus, a perfectly manageable number. And, the group has a mission. It is not to really grow numbers — rather, it is to grow awareness.

As an organization, the Student Pirate Club is dedicated to promoting the interests of the university’s athletic program, promote awareness and support for all sports, coordinate activities with the Pirate Club for the purpose of fundraising for athletics, and to educate the students on the activities, purpose and affiliation of the Educational Foundation (Pirate Club).

“One thing we did was a mass mailing to incoming freshmen and new students to home addresses prior to coming to school,” Crawford said. “1,200 is pretty good number. We’re never going to turn anybody away, but after awhile, the benefits drive down the value of the memberships. What we’d rather have is to grow the activity within the numbers.”

Some of those strategic activities are to drive up student numbers at sporting events. Groups like the Minges Maniacs, an SGA-registered group that works cross-functionally with the Pirate Club and the University marketing group, have taken the ball and run with it, and are starting to make a tangible difference.

“Tickets are going to become scarce for basketball,” Crawford said. “The Minges Maniacs have been around awhile and the key there is that the students took the bull by the horns. It’s an example of activity. Students taking charge, like a Jonathan Medford with the Minges Maniacs, and it has made a real difference at the basketball games. It helps to raise awareness. Taylor Keith (president of the Student P.C.) has also done a great job.

“We (at the P.C.) have a lot of other fish to fry, so to speak, so it is very important that the students drive the membership and the activities. We help the students organize.”

Among the “help” the Pirate Club has supplied are assistance with logistics mixed in with the occasional more exciting extra activity. Examples have included helping coordinate and execute hoops trips to Charlotte, arranging pre-game meals with a visit from the coach, offering special ticket pickups for members, and most importantly, ensuring that the member students get credit, upon graduation, for their student years toward priority points as regular P.C. members.

“Students get credit for consecutive year benefits,” Crawford said. “A freshman who is a Student Pirate Club member in four years will graduate with four years of credit toward priority seating and all other (P.C. perks).”

Other benefits for the $25 membership, include priority tickets for basketball and football, priority ticket purchase opportunities for bowl games and road games, full Crew level membership in the Pirate Club at a third of the cost, subscription to The Pirates Chest, ECU facility tours, access to special events like tailgates, and up close and personal meetings with coaches and players.

The Pirate Club strives to make it a lifetime commitment for the students who have committed early. In fact, some former Student P.C. members have even interned in the P.C. for career purposes.

“It’s all about carrying over membership to adult memberships,” Crawford said. “We’re doing anything we can to get our young graduates to get involved and stay involved.

With 1,200 strong, the student Pirate Club is now doing just what they have set out to do and, in the process, has made both the football and basketball programs very difficult to beat at home.

Send an e-mail message to Ron Cherubini.

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02/23/2007 02:32:31 PM

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