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Dynamics beyond the sidelines


More Than a Game
Saturday, April 5, 2003
By Ron Cherubini
Staff Feature Writer

The Travelin’ Man: Spreadin’ the Pirate Gospel

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

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

On the road with 'Big Guy'


So, here’s Matt Maloney, on a typical business trip for the East Carolina University Pirate Club:

It’s August, with the first kickoff not too far off, and Maloney is out preachin’… preachin’ the gospel according to ECU Athletics. His week started off in Greenville and by Friday, the travelin’ assistant director of the Pirate Club has already been to Columbia, SC, then Atlanta, up and over to Charlotte, down the road to Mooresville, through Winston-Salem and finally – albeit temporarily – in Raleigh, within earshot of home.

When he's not on the road spreading the 'gospel,' Pirate Club assistant director Matt Maloney preaches it on the phone.
Photo: ©2003 (Sara Macias)

But, the comfy confines of Greenville will have to wait. See, Maloney needs to be in Richmond in a day or so and then to Washington, DC. He is stumping… stumping for dollars for his favorite endeavor: the ECU Pirates.

“It’s Purple Passion, brother,” Maloney said. “The whole thing is to spread the gospel… the gospel of the Pirates every day. No matter where we are… out at the chapters, in Greenville… we have to show how much passion we have for our program if we expect others to give.”

Maloney and his ECU Pirate Club brethren clearly believe in what they are selling and the rep better known as “the Big Guy” has logged his share of miles and then some. And for every one of those miles, Maloney is focused on one thing and one thing only, sharing the message that is ECU.

“I like to say, ‘Ask Bill Askew and Al Wainwright about how many miles I put on a car, since they provide our cars,’” Maloney said. “I’ll put it this way… the 3,000 miles always come way before the three months for an oil change.”

For Maloney, it is truly a labor of love and he hopes it shows in every handshake, phone call, and letter.

“When I am asking for a gift, I’ve got to show how much I love East Carolina,” he said. “To be genuine is the only way to appear genuine. The job is very rewarding because we know we can make a difference for our fine student-athletes and for the university in the years to come.”

With the Pirate Club circling 2003 as a strategic fundraising year, Maloney admits that now more than ever, he has been energized to get out and get to the business of raising the funds necessary to meet the aggressive plans of the club for next year.

“It’s truly the life of a Pirate,” Maloney said. “A good challenge (put out) in front of you. Pirates never quit, brother. A Pirate is always going to come out fighting and work harder. You just have to continue to go, achieve success. And when you find a little success, you want more and you work harder for it.

“Our entire staff works together and goes hard. Guys like Walter Williams, going out on tour with us. Here is a guy who is not only giving money, but he gives his time. He is right there with you ‘cause he loves it.”

Maloney is also a competitive guy and when he feels a little bit of a drain coming on, he need only look around Conference-USA.

“We have competition all around us,” he said. “Not only in our state, but in Conference-USA. We want to beat Louisville on the field, on the court, and we want to out-fundraise them. Dennis (Young) sets our goals high, because we want the highest level. We like to be talked about around the country.”

When Maloney arrives at a chapter banquet or meeting, he knows a few things. First, donor level means little when it comes to the value of involvement, and second, nobody is there to hear him talk.

“We have a genuine appreciation for everybody, no matter if they give $75 or are Golden Saber level,” Maloney said. “They all make a difference. I remember when Walter joined at first, he gave a hundred dollars. Of course, he’s given millions since, but the point is that everybody starts at a certain level and we want them to feel good about it, no matter how much. Those same people are the ones that become bigger and bigger donors.”

The main travel time for Maloney and his mates is from February to May.

“They are all there to hear what our coaches have to say, and we know that,” Maloney said. “We use the spring banquet tour to energize our base, and no matter whether it is the first stop or the 19th stop, we have to have real enthusiasm and we remain that way for the whole circuit. We use the football, basketball, and baseball seasons as opportunities to spend time with our donors.”

Among his tasks, Maloney not only gets out to the chapters, he also looks to develop new chapters, arrange social events, and look for alternative ways to spread the gospel.

“We try to take advantage of geographical opportunities,” he said. “A great example was when we went to the TCU game. We had a tailgate in Ft. Worth. Myself and Dick Jones, who is a Super Pirate, arranged it, and we had about 60 people show up from the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. At that event we saw some $75 members jump to Skull & Crossbones level.”

In true preacher fashion, Maloney said that it was not the Pirate Club representatives, but rather, the true Pirates around the country that are critical to membership.

“Everybody out there is a Pirate rep,” he said. “If you see someone and ask them if they are a Pirate Club member, it’s amazing how many people will get involved just for being reminded. And it’s not always just graduates. We have many friends who just get hooked on the Pirates.”

One of the goals for 2003 is to move closer to the 10,000-member benchmark. It is critical for the future of the ECU programs that this milestone be hit. Maloney need only look to the teams themselves for additional motivation when he is feeling like he can’t drive another mile.

“What is really, really rewarding is seeing the impact on the student-athletes,” he said. “But just as rewarding are all of the relationships you develop. Pirates are family, man.”

Maloney said that the success of the hoops program and the enthusiastic participation that Coach Bill Herrion brings to the Pirate Club efforts have made his job a little easier.

“Basketball success has really helped our efforts,” Maloney said. “Now fans are excited for the next season (after football). They know that Coach Herrion has the program going in the right direction and Coach is very good about getting out and speaking with the donors. He adheres himself to make people want to give and that definitely helps. We are making that (basketball) ticket a hard one to get. We will be reassigning seats in Minges soon and people are already calling trying to find out how they can ensure that they get better seats. I tell them, move up (the PC donor list).”

Maloney said all the coaches have responded well.

“Collegiate athletics today,” he noted, “the coaches know how important they are to raising money. The bottom-line is that Pirate Club members want to talk to the coaches in person. The coaches know that and have responded well. And former players, guys like Ernest (Byner) and George (Koonce), come through as speakers at different events.”

The Pirate Club has indeed set in stone some steep marching orders for its representatives, but with Pirate-like commitment, all have embraced the call.

“We definitely want to have this program on solid ground (in the next 10 years),” Maloney said. “We need 10,000-plus members, be fully-funded for all sports, and heavily endowed. The basketball team and the baseball stadium have been a big help this year. The football team… having a bad season makes it tough. Nobody wants to be happy when you lose. We need more people, have a bigger audience… we want to have a great overall athletic program and, hey, why not compete for that Sears Cup!”

As Maloney gets set for another traveling road show, he takes stock of where he is.

“I really feel at home here in Greenville,” he said. “It is a special place. I’ve got the passion. There is still a lot to do here.”

And a lot of miles to go.

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02/23/2007 02:33:28 PM

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