Freshman Jimmy Booth makes a tackle during a drill early in Sunday's practice.
Dec. 26, 2010
I hope you celebrated a very merry Christmas yesterday and that the stores treated you well on what is a national day of gift returns. However, for those of you in eastern North Carolina and all along the east coast where the snowflakes have flown, I hope you are safe, warm and indoors avoiding the roads!
Who would have thought that East Carolina goes north for its bowl trip and ends up with less snow in Washington, D.C., than Greenville got today? Looking out my window right now in the hotel, there is hardly any snow accumulation. That’s a far cry from the six to seven inches that we here are on the ground inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
It was the lightest day of the trip for all of us in Washington, D.C. The bowl events really pick up over the next two days and then we have kickoff on the 29th.
Prior to heading out to practice today, the players received their second gift from the Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman, getting a wheelable duffel bag adorned with the bowl’s logo.
The Pirates began with an 8:00 a.m. wakeup call, which they have been observing all week long. The team had breakfast and then went through a half-hour special teams meeting before hour-long positional meetings. The bus departed for the third practice at Eastern High School at 11:00 a.m.
About the time we left, a little snow started. There was no accumulation on the field during the two-hour workout, but flakes were falling the entire time. I talked with some of the football staff before the session began and we determined only a handful of players had ever been through a practice while it was snowing.
Today’s workout was scheduled like a regular-season Wednesday. Following stretching and individual drill work, the remainder of the time was spent in scout and team-on-team work. It was the next-to-last practice before the Maryland contest, so today was the last chance to really dig deep into the game plan. Tomorrow will be utilized mainly to fine tune and will be a briefer session.
First-year head coach Ruffin McNeill has been pleased with all three practices in the nation’s capital so far. He has felt the players have been very focused on the task at hand and preparing for the Terrapins.
A Night In The Nation’s Capital
The first stop for many players once they got back to the hotel was the Potbelly Sandwich Shop, right across the street. The food was so good that by the time I went there about an hour later to get some lunch, the place was sold out of its meatball and pizza subs.
After a quick bite, I headed into the city. The last time I was in the nation’s capitol was the summer of 1988, when I was two years old and being pushed around in a stroller. I’m willing to bet I got more out of the trip this time around than last.
One of the great parts about Washington, D.C., is that almost all of the museums in the city offer free admission. The only three that charge are the Newseum, The National Museum of Crime & Punishment and the International Spy Museum.
I spent the evening at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. (The Smithsonian actually encompasses 19 total museums and galleries.) If you love viewing and learning about U.S. history, this is the place to go. The three-floor building is practically a living archive of almost all significant events that have taken place in this country. It covers everything from the invention of electricity to the history of the Star-Spangled Banner to the presidents of the United States and their first ladies to American involvement in wars and beyond.
My two favorite exhibits were the American flag that flew over Baltimore’s Fort McHenry on September 14, 1814, and led to Francis Scott Key penning the national anthem and the top hat President Abraham Lincoln wore to the Ford’s Theatre the night he was assassinated. The flag is kept under glass and dim light to preserve it and no pictures are allowed to be taken, but it was impressive and so big. It was originally sewn by Mary Pickersgill and measured 30 feet by 42 feet. Lincoln loved to wear a top hat and one from Washington hat maker J.Y. Davis was the hat he put on April 14, 1865, to go to Ford’s Theatre.
Scheduled bowl events resume tomorrow as a small group of Pirates will visit Bolling Air Force Base in the morning. The players will have a morning practice before head coach Ruffin McNeill and a pair of Pirates participate in this week’s only press conference. The team and staff will end the day with a tour of the U.S. Capitol.