ECU freshman encouraged to connect and invest
By Tyler Stocks
Monday, August 19, 2019
At East Carolina University, football season is cathartic for fans who bleed purple and gold and give their opponents no quarter.
With the first home opener two weeks away, thousands of freshman attending convocation at Minges Coliseum on Sunday afternoon were urged by head football coach Mike Houston to cause a ruckus and pack the student section known as the Boneyard.
"We need your help on game day to make (the Boneyard) the rowdiest, raunchiest, loudest, most intimidating group in the entire stadium," Houston said. "You're going to set the tone for game day."
Students chanted "purple" and "gold" and clapped their hands as the Marching Pirates, dance team and cheerleaders led them in "E.C. Victory." And to help them prepare for Sept.7, when the Pirates take on the Bulldogs of Gardner Webb, Jeff Charles, the "Voice of the Pirates," went over game day traditions.
"I can't wait for our first home win, which it better be Sept.7, for us to be able to come down to the Boneyard and celebrate with the student body in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium," Houston said. "The kids are working really really hard to give us a football program that we all can be proud of, but I want you to know that you're part of us, and we need your help."
Athletics Director John Gilbert told the freshman class how ECU is different from other schools.
"We're a little different; we play with a chip on our shoulder and we're willing to play anybody, anytime, anywhere," Gilbert said.
It's that difference that continues to attract thousands of students from across the country to Pirate Nation.
"I know that you had other choices, and we're so happy that you came to Greenville and joined East Carolina University," Interim Chancellor Dan Gerlach said.
Now that students are here, Gerlach wants them to get connected.
"What you have to do is connect because without that, you're not going to be as successful as we want you to be," he said. "What I want you to do is connect by getting out of your comfort zone. This is not pirate village, this is not pirate suburb, this is Pirate Nation."
"We also want you to invest," Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Virginia Hardy said. "Invest in yourself. One way to invest in yourself is to go to class, go to class and go to class. That is the best way to invest in yourself and invest in your future.
"I understand that you've set some goals for yourself and you've some expectations," Hardy said. "Invest the time and effort to bring those things to fruition. You will have some bumps and bruises along the way. Everything is not going to come up roses.
"That's okay; that's a part of life," she said. "However, we need you to stay resilient, use that grit."
Hardy also urged students to make use of assistance offered by the university.
"Investing in yourself means utilizing the many resources that this university has," she said. "And most of them are free of charge to you. We have invested in you and we are ready to assist you in your success.
"As your home, Pirate Nation, we want you to understand that East Carolina University is a place where in good times and in bad, students, faculty, staff come together to create a support system and create a way in which we can talk about anything and everything so we can help you," Hardy said.
SGA President Colin Johnson and Cal Christian, a professor in the College of Business, also spoke during the ceremony.
"You got to find what motivates you because it's not at all going to be easy," Johnson said. "But look around. This is your home. All of this belongs to you. It's what ECU is, an exciting place, a welcoming home and a diverse community.
"All of this is yours for the taking if you have the courage to step out of your comfort zone and to embrace something different," he said.
Christian told students not to fear failure but to embrace it as a way to accomplish greatness.
"You're going to face some failures, you're going to have some pain but guess what — you can't stub your toe if you're not moving," Christian said.
"Challenge your environment, get out of your comfort zone," he said. "As you go through these next four years, if you're always at the head of the class, you're in the wrong class. Challenge yourself, push yourself. Don't think of yourself just as a student, think of yourself as an owner of ECU."