FROM THE EDITOR
I settle into my seat in the press box atop Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and lift my binoculars to scan the crowd. The stadium is filling and the noise level is rising as the huge video screen begins showing the pirate ship sailing ashore. Then the cannon booms and purple smoke billows up as the team runs onto the field, bringing a full-throated roar from the crowd.
I sit down and think, as I have many times before, that ECU has the best college football pregame show, bar none.
It’s been a dream of mine to watch a game from up here. Tom McClellan, the director of athletic media relations, snapped his fingers and made it happen for the Houston game.
The working reporters sitting around me are plugging in their laptops and scanning their media packets. Above us, on the press box’s second level, the radio and TV people are setting up cameras and doing sound checks. Far below us, the teams exchange punts and we reach the first TV timeout. The room relaxes, and I begin playing a game I like to do at times like this.
It’s like “Where’s Waldo?” except I play “Where’s Terry?”
Athletics Director Terry Holland has been a constant presence at ECU sports events for eight years. I’ve spotted him somewhere in the crowd at every game I’ve attended. I’ve learned not to look for his tall, thin frame on the 50-yard line at football games or sitting behind the bench at basketball games. He’s not in the box seats at baseball and softball games. I almost always spot him standing off in a corner, a strategic vantage point where he can see everything. From his intense gaze, I often get the feeling that he’s watching not just the game, but the event.
Lifting my binoculars, I scan down the home sidelines toward the west end zone, and there he is, standing, armes crossed, near a clutch of photographers. What looks like a staff member walks up to him, and Holland bends down to hear above the noise. He nods and the staffer walks away. Apparently, another item on Holland’s game day to-do list has been checked off.
After nearly 50 years as a college player, coach and athletics director, Terry Holland knows every detail required to stage the spectacle that I and 50,000 other people are enjoying this sunny Saturday. He has steered East Carolina through a building boom in sports facilities and a step up to a major sports conference. His signature accomplishment on campus is arguably the new Olympics Sports Complex, which is being named in his honor.
As he transitions into an emeritus role and helps ECU find its next athletics director, it’s good to know his presence will continue being felt and seen on campus. Soon, playing “Where’s Terry” at the softball, soccer and track and field complex will be a piece of cake. Just look up and he’ll be there.