Greenville, North Carolina, was the destination of a 90-minute drive from Raleigh. I stepped back onto the East Carolina University campus for the first time in over a year.
We returned to Pirate Nation for a different experience: a Pirates football game. On a hot Saturday afternoon, the Pirates took on the Virginia Tech Hokies.
After parking, we walked about a quarter mile until we were outside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, home of the Pirates. The stadium was much taller and wider than I thought it would be but not big enough to contain the excitement created by the East Carolina fans.
Upon entering the stadium, I encountered a wide equipment truck for Virginia Tech, along with the tons of concession stands that were scattered over the lower levels of the arena. The first thing that I took advantage of during pre-game was taking pictures of the Virginia Tech players from a side entrance of the field.
We went to our section of the stadium where I was surrounded by purple and gold, which I felt nice and comfortable in. Though it was my first college game, I felt right at home in the middle of Pirate nation.
As the clock ticked down to kickoff, ECU made their entrance through a pirate skull, with a few players leading the charge with flags in their hands, including the American and North Carolina flag. The noise created by the Pirate nation for their team entering the stadium could’ve been heard by schools across North Carolina. I was bouncing around, feeding off the energy.
The Hokies made their way to the field to a chorus of boos from the ECU student section, but they were unfazed by the negativity, some players even asking for more hate, embracing the boos.
Before anyone in the stadium knew it, it was time for kickoff, with the Pirates receiving the ball. The atmosphere gained energy and excitement within the first drive of the game. ECU scored a touchdown within the first 5 minutes of the game which got the crowd more hyped up than ever, including myself. The cannon went off, and it was electric.
The first quarter of the game created a very competitive and positive atmosphere. The fans were on their feet, thanks to the Pirates scoring on their first two drives. The cheers were deafening inside Dowdy-Ficklen.
Though the game turned into a monstrous rout by the Hokies, there was so much more to the experience.
It was hot that day in Greenville. The temperature stayed steady throughout the game, in the mid-to-upper 80 degrees mark. As sweat continued to drip down all of the fans necks in attendance, the score continued to increase, but not for the Pirates. The East Carolina fans intensity meter went lower and lower as the game continued.
After leading by 10 points within the first quarter, the Pirates were losing by 6 at halftime to Virginia Tech, a deficit that would continue to majorly increase. Halftime is where things got very interesting however.
First, a lucky fan named Parker Smith was selected to attempt a 25-yard field goal. The prizes for making the field goal was front row tickets to another game, as well as $1,000. Unfortunately, Parker completely missed the kick in front of almost 48,000 fans. Smith didn’t win the $1000 but did get to keep the front row seats.
Next up, after a grueling and competitive summer, the Greenville Little League World Series team came out to be recognized for their hard work. After finishing second in the United States, Greenville just came up short to be in the final game of the LLWS. The team came out and waved to their home crowd, who cheered loudly and proudly for all of their hard work and dedication.
Following the LLWS team coming out, the ECU Marching Pirates came out to perform a flag show, which entertained the audience. The Marching Pirates looked very professional on the field, and did a fantastic job with the flags.
When the game resumed, it no longer became competitive. Virginia Tech completely dismantled the Pirates’ defense, and the rest of the game was hard to watch as a Pirates fan. The Hokies completely dominated the Pirates for the rest of the game, with the final score resulting in a 64-17 Pirate loss.
The stands had really emptied out midway through the 3rd quarter, when many of the fans gave up any hope of making a comeback.
The game was my first college football game, but more importantly my first game as a Pirate. Though the home team could not secure a win, there was so much more to a Pirates’ game than just football. Being around a loud and raucous (even if it was really intense for a half) crowd was a thrilling experience.
Before my family and I made our way back to our car, I took one last final look at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. I was never more proud to be a Pirate.