Fans attending East Carolina University home football games this season may notice members of the Marching Pirates have a quicker step or an extra snap with their color guard flags.
And the reason might be their new uniforms. They were definitely needed, according to Bill Staub, director of the Marching Pirates.
“The old uniforms were more than 10 years old,” said Staub, who is now in his second year with ECU. “They were gross. It was the number one need of the program when I arrived.”
The new uniforms for the Marching Pirates cost $120,000 with another $10,000 for the guard, dance team and twirler uniforms.
Donations covered the cost. “The uniform campaign had started before I even got here; donors contributed thousands to it,” Staub said, adding that the university’s Executive Council also allocated funds for the project.
Staub had several goals with the new uniforms. First was a change in the overall design. “When people looked at those uniforms, people thought our colors were purple and white. Now when people see our uniforms, they know our school’s colors are purple and gold,” he said.
The Marching Pirates now have jackets with one gold sleeve and one purple sleeve and the back of their jackets are purple, so Staub can incorporate a “color change” visual effect on the field by having the members turn in sync. Musicians wear black gloves, instead of the previous white, along with black pants, black shoes and a new distinctive hat.
The ECU Marching Pirates make their way to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for the Aug. 31 football game against Old Dominion.
“These cross sections of color will allow us to do a lot of things on the field. When you see us turn around on the field, you’ll see us change color and when we turn around, change color again. It will be very visually stimulating,” he said.
The change in hat style was thought out as well.
“I wanted to have a little bit of a nod to us being the Pirates and a little nostalgia in the uniform,” he said. “We changed our hats to a cavalier style hat instead of shako, traditional marching band hat style. The Marching Pirates wore cavalier style hats two or three generations ago.”
And in addition to the planning for color changes in marching sequences and the look of the new hats from the stands, Staub also thought of the student musicians wearing the new uniforms.
“Being in eastern North Carolina, I wanted them to be lighter so the material is more breathable and weighs less,” he said.
“The uniforms are beautiful; the kids love them. And they will look great under the lights at the stadium,” Staub said.
Sophomore Max Braunstein is a fan. The percussion performance major is in his second year with the Marching Pirates.
“The new uniforms really represent the Marching Pirates really well. People are noticing during tailgating how great the new uniforms look. I think it represents a bright future for the Marching Pirates,” he said.
And biggest difference he has noticed from old uniforms to the new? “Besides it being nice and clean?” Braunstein said with a laugh. “The uniforms look great on the field, and they shine bright on the field and even in the stands.”