Posted by Brandon Alandt
I was a fresh face on my school’s campus in January, 2012. Upon transferring from another university across the state I was longing for a vintage college experience. I wondered where the fun and exciting part of college was. I wanted a home away from home. I wanted a family aside from my family. I pessimistically didn’t expect either of those, however. Enter East Carolina University.
When my first fall semester rolled around 8 months later a lot of things were different for me. The weather was warmer and I knew a lot more people. I was fairly familiar with my school and the surrounding area. I woke up regularly to the sound of the Marching Pirates rehearsing the fight song and that didn’t even irritate me. In general, I had already grown to like the town I had crash-landed in. What I didn’t understand at the time was that I didn’t completely comprehend the whole culture I was being assimilated into. Then a few weeks later I experienced my first college football game as a student, and a wave of clarity overtook me.
I didn’t know my peers who often slept through 8am classes would enthusiastically and emphatically drink beer in a parking lot at that same hour. I didn’t know there wasn’t a division between groups of people and organizations on these days. I didn’t even know I could have fun losing at cornhole. I didn’t know I could tolerate scorching hot weather for an entire day, either.
As a lifelong sports fanatic, I still didn’t understand the capacity for a game that’s played once a week to bring people together. I always looked forward to the experience, but I was stunned by how much better it was in person. It didn’t matter who you were; when you walk into the stadium wearing the appropriate colors, you become part of something where you aren’t alone.
You become a member of a family. A family of children, students, and alumni who are mostly strangers. You become part of a tradition. You scream your lungs out to the same chants and cheers week after week and it never gets old. On Saturdays we actually become our own little Pirate Nation.
Come Saturday I’ll be standing in my usual spot several rows up in the corner of the end zone in the student section. I’ll be at the stadium an hour early to watch the band perform and for all of the pregame festivities. I’ll have butterflies in the pit of my stomach due to the anticipation that causes me to be unable to stand still. I’ll be yelling and clapping until my throat and hands get sore, and then I’ll yell some more. I’ll be doing this every Saturday I get the privilege of seeing the team emerge out of an inflatable skull in the midst of a purple haze.
If anything, the whole experience gets more exciting as the years pass. I didn’t understand all of this at first, but I think I do now. The spirit and pride I feel for my school is something special and it’s something that I’ll take with me to my grave. I found my home and my family, and it’s all here at East Carolina University. Go Pirates.