For anyone who has ever met an East Carolina University alumni, they know that Pirate fans love their ECU football games. Having attended this great university, I can attest to the famous Pirate pride and spectacular game day experience that Pirate Nation is so fond of. In fact, throughout my four years at East Carolina, I never missed a single home football game, even if it was pouring rain! What I love most about game day at ECU is that the entire college town of Greenville, NC, shines with ECU pride and is completely decked out in purple and gold.
Tailgating is an essential part of the festivities that contribute to the entire game day experience. No matter what time the game begins, ECU fans are located all over Greenville tailgating hours before it starts. Walking around Greenville on a game day, there is an overwhelming strong aroma of food on the grill, Bojangles, and beer.
Outside of great tailgating food and drinks, there are many different activities to participate in. In fact, at every tailgate lot, there are corn hole boards, people throwing footballs, and drinking games being played. Also, depending on where you are located, if you are near the stadium you may see the dancers, cheerleaders, and band parading through the streets.
After hours of tailgating, people start heading to the stadium to grab their seats. Being a student, I always stood on the stands in the Boneyard student section. The atmosphere of being in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is unlike any other. There are many traditions that take place from start to finish of each game.
Starting each game the band, color guard, dancers, and cheerleaders go out on the field to perform a pregame show to get the crowd excited. The show begins with a classic chant of “E-C-U” followed by some music and crowd engagement. Once the crowd has gotten the chance to yell for their section, we begin chanting the E.C. Victory (Fight Song). The band then gets into a formation, in the shape of our state. and the entire stadium begins to sing the ECU Alma Mater. Following the Alma Mater, we all sing the National Anthem to support our country, and most of the student section chants, “USA.”
Returning back to chanting the Fight Song, we all continue to get excited for the game to begin. The band creates a new formation and the cheerleaders as well as our mascot, PeeDee, lead the entire stadium in the “Purple – Gold” chant. After it ends, the football entrance video for the current year begins to pump up the crowd.
After the entrance video is played, the sound of an air raid siren goes off and the song, “Purple Haze” begins to fill Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Displayed on the field is a giant, blown up Pirate head with purple fog flowing out of it. The first to come out of the fog is the famous, Steve the Pirate who is followed by the head ECU football coach. For my first three years of college the head coach was Ruffin McNeill, and for my senior year, we had Scottie Montgomery. Both coaches were awesome, and I’m glad I was able to experience them coaching the team.
Once the anticipation rises, our football team finally runs out at the sound of a cannon going off and the announcer shouting for the Pirates. The crowd goes wild and the entire stadium lives up to their motto of getting rowdy in Dowdy. We wrap up the pregame show by chanting the Fight Song again and get ready for kick-off.
Leading up to kick-off, the captains of both teams meet in the middle to do the coin toss. After the winner of the toss is announced, the crowd goes wild. Then, another video displays. This one also happens to be my personal favorite. The video starts out with Pirates of the Caribbean character, Elizabeth Swan, telling the men to “Hoist the Colors.” After that scene, it shows a clips of the movie while playing the song, “Yo-Ho” (A Pirate’s Life for Me). The audience sings along and sways back and forth with their arms wrapped around one another.
As soon as the video ends, the kick-off song, “White Stripes” begins to play. All of Pirate fans bring out their keys and start jingling them while singing along. After the kicker kicks the ball, the game begins.
The crowd takes “rowdy in Dowdy” to a whole new level. Especially when we score. After a touchdown, the cannons go off and the fans begin cheering along to the Fight Song. Included in the celebrations, the cheerleaders and PeeDee do push ups with the score of the game.
There are many traditions that take place during the game outside of celebrating touchdowns. For instance, the crowd dances along with the band and takes part in their chants. Similarly, there are multiple times with the “Purple – Gold” chant is cheered as well as other common ECU chants led by the cheer squad. We also have a special chant when our team reaches a first down, “First down, Pirates, ARRRGH.”
Outside of the general chants and cheers, the crowd has their own traditions that they begin on their own. For example, at every game, we always try to begin a giant wave that flows around the entire stadium. Also, as some of you may know, our university is also known for shouting out the lyrics to the song, “Living on a Prayer.” It is amazing when this song begins because the entire population in Dowdy-Ficklen doesn’t miss a single beat. Even after the song stops, a lot of us continue to sing.
Another really cool tradition that I took part in during my senior year took place during the blackout games. At every blackout game, there are always students who paint themselves like skeletons. This school year, some of my friends and I decided to show our Pirate pride by painting ourselves for our senior year blackout game.
If you’ve ever stayed past half-time at an East Carolina game, you probably have witnessed “No Quarter.” This celebration occurs in between the third and fourth quarters. During this part, the “No Quarter” video is played and the fans pull out their flags. The song, “Welcome to the Jungle,” begins and fans with their flags are shown on the big screen. At the same time, the Pirate flag comes down, and the “No Quarter” flag is raised.
According to Pirates, “No Quarter” essentially means to take no prisoners and show no mercy. As for us ECU Pirates, the purpose of this portion is to cheer on our football team and remind them to fight hard during the final quarter. Also, this is everyone’s favorite time to get onto the jumbo screen with their “No Quarter” flags.
At the end each game, we always sing the ECU Alma Mater. Plus, if we win a game, we also sing, “All I Do is Win” and yell, “ECU” during the pause after DJ Khaled sings, “…everybody’s hands go up!” However, win or lose it is always a pleasure being able to support the ECU Pirate football team.
Rain or shine, I never missed a single home game during my college career, and I am so glad I didn’t. Being a Pirate is one of my favorite things, and I enjoy showing off my Alma Mater pride, especially at the football games. I will miss watching the games in the Boneyard as a student. However, I’m going to try to attend as many ECU games as I can as an alumna!