There was a time not too long ago when the Nash/Edgecombe chapter of the East Carolina Pirate Club had splintered.
The chapter’s affection for the Pirates did not waver, but some members moved away, others acquired different jobs that took away their free time and some retired. Sandwiched between other Pirate Club chapters who run hundreds of members deep, Nash/Edgecombe’s had lost momentum.
Wednesday evening was a major step in rejuvenating and recapturing past strengths when the chapter welcomed a combination of East Carolina coaches, administrators and media personalities to Nashville’s Birchwood Country Club.
It was the first such gathering in three years for the chapter.
“We got some guys together and said, ‘We need to do it again and see if we can get some local support and see what happens,” Nash/Edgecombe East Carolina Pirate Club President Clint Cooke said. “We didn’t recruit and get people involved like we should have. We found enough of those people who said, ‘Guys, let’s go for it.’”
One hundred and sixty tickets were sold for the event.
The Nash/Edgecombe chapter was joined by men’s basketball coach Jeff Lebo, women’s basketball coach Heather Macy, football offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, Pirates television and radio broadcaster, Jeff Charles, and athletics director Jeff Compher.
Compher celebrated his one-year anniversary as the school’s athletics director Wednesday. It was a year ago that he attended a similar event in Morehead City during his first day on the job.
“We spend all year asking people to come see us at our venues, so to go out and be with Pirates on the road is something we look forward to,” Compher said.
East Carolina is completing its final season as a member of Conference USA.
The school will move to the American Athletic Conference next season, which not only brings a stronger level of competition to the playing fields but also excites the fan base as a whole.
Connecticut, which won the national championship in both men’s and women’s basketball, will visit Minges Coliseum next season as conference foes of East Carolina.
“We need to fill the place up,” said Nash/Edgecombe Pirate Club board member Tim Martin, who recalled the men’s program defeating nationally ranked Marquette in Minges Coliseum when the visitors were lead by NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade. “We need to reclaim that glory and go forward. It’s an honor to be in the American. I know we’ll be up to the test.”
Events like Wednesday and Friday’s 20-team golf tournament are the backbone to athletics programs around the country.
Compher said he has learned first-hand during the past 365 days that Pirates fans are direct in their praise and criticism.
“The Pirates fans really care about what you do,” Compher said. “They have an opinion about the decisions you make, and they hold your feet to the fire. We have to be on our game as administrators and coaches. It’s good to have a fan base that cares enough to share their opinion.”
Jessie H. Nunery can be reached at 407-9959 or firstname.lastname@example.org