The East Carolina football team took a tour of the U.S. Capitol building Monday afternoon.
Dec. 27, 2010
Anticipation for the 2010 Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman is steadily rising with kickoff less than 48 hours away. Nice weather is also on the increase as it was a snowless and sunny day. The wind advisory for the Washington, D.C., area, however, with its accompanying gusts of 47 miles per hour made the temperature seem pretty cold again. The actual high topped out around 35, but the wind chill put it at 21.
Prior to beginning a day full of events, the Pirates received their third gift from the Military Bowl. It was a beige stocking cap with blue trim on the bottom and the Military Bowl logo in the center.
Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling
Yesterday I had mentioned that a few players were going to go to Bolling Air Force Base. Upon arriving at the base this morning, I learned that in October the Naval Support Facility Anacostia and Bolling Air Force Base were merged, thus changing the name to the Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling.
Going on the base visit were Charlie Coggins, Ben Herlocker, Desmond Lawrence, Phillip McNaughton, Matt Millisor, Trey Pennington and Director of Football Administration Cary Godette. The group went to put on a youth clinic for children who live on the base.
The hour-long event was the first held by the Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in conjunction with the Washington, D.C., bowl game. The USO was also thrilled to have East Carolina visit. As I was reminded by Adrienne Trout, Vice President of Communications & Development at the USO of Metropolitan Washington, the children of military families are also serving our country so youth enrichment programs like this one are very much appreciated.
There were about 60 kids, ranging in age from six to 11, in the base's large gym for the event. The children were divided into two groups. The first went through a series of drills with the players while the other group got to ask questions of the Pirates. After a half hour, the groups switched so all in attendance got to take part in everything offered by ECU.
The kids loved the opportunity to run around with the players. The drills were divided into offense and defense and focused on hand-eye coordination and teamwork. Among the questions that were asked of the players were why they liked playing football, what brought them to East Carolina, whether they played other sports and what their favorite hobbies are. When Herlocker was addressing the crowd, he was even asked if the Pirates were going to beat Maryland on Wednesday. He just smiled in response.
Military Bowl Press Conference
After this morning's practice, first-year head coach Ruffin McNeill along with seniors Dwayne Harris and Melvin Patterson headed to the Military Bowl's only press conference of the week.
The event began with a few words from Executive Director of the Military Bowl Steve Beck and Senior Vice President, Marketing & Communications of the USO Frank Thorp. Joining ECU's contingent at the press conference was Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen and a pair of his seniors in receiver Torrey Smith and linebacker Alex Wujciak.
Following the brief remarks by Beck and Thorp, McNeill was asked to address the media. He talked about how pleased he was to be playing in the Military Bowl and what a challenge the well-coached Maryland squad would be. He also discussed the leadership of this season's senior class and how their acceptance of the new coaching staff made the year enjoyable.
The floor was opened up for a question-and-answer session after Friedgen took his turn speaking to the media. After about 15 minutes of questions, the press conference broke out into one-on-one interviews and photo opportunities of all the representatives from each school.
U.S. Capitol Tour
Once the press conference was completed and all the pictures were taken, McNeill, Harris and Patterson rejoined the team, coaches, families and administrators for a tour of the U.S. Capitol.
Before entering the building for the tour, the Pirates posed for a team picture on the steps of our nation's capitol. The photo is included in today's photo gallery, linked at the top of the page, and here.
The Pirates were then taken through security screening, very much like going through an airport, and then escorted into the Capitol Visitor Center. Once there, the team had about 15 minutes to walk through Exhibition Hall before the tour began. Exhibition Hall is dedicated to the legislative branch of the U.S. government. Guarding the entrance way stands the original plaster model for the Statue of Freedom, which sits atop the Capitol dome. Inside Exhibition Hall are displays about the history of Congress and the Capitol as well as the Constitution.
Once the tour began, the ECU party was shown a 13-minute film called Out of Many, One, which covered the history of Congress, the Capitol building and the role of Congress in the lives of Americans. The Pirates then walked through the Crypt, the Great Rotunda and National Statuary Hall, where the House of Representatives met until 1857. The Crypt lies directly beneath the Rotunda while National Statuary Hall is also known as the Whispering Gallery due to the acoustics, which allow people standing across the room to hear each other's whispers.
ESPN Conference Call
The final event of the day was the teleconference for the ESPN television crew in preparation for Wednesday's game. McNeill, defensive coordinator Brian Mitchell and offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley took part in the call with ESPN television personalities Pam Ward, Danny Kanell and Quint Kessenich. During Wednesday's game, Ward will serve as the play-by-play voice while Kanell provides the analysis and Kessenich will be the sideline reporter.
During the teleconference, all three East Carolina coaches discussed the challenges Maryland presents and how focused the Pirates have been this week. The three also talked about some ways the team might try to attack the Terrapins during the contest.
Tomorrow, the final day of bowl preparation, features a luncheon for both teams and a walk-through at RFK Stadium.