East Carolina University was founded in 1907 as a teacher training school, and the football, baseball and basketball teams became known as the teachers. But in the 1930’s, the Men’s Athletic Association wanted a name to inspire “more spirit and enthusiasm,” according to the late ECU historian Mary Jo Bratton.
In 1934, East Carolina University officially adopted Pirates as an athletic namesake because the school is located near the North Carolina coast where pirates often harbored their ships. History’s most famous pirate, Edward Teach, known more commonly as “Blackbeard,” had nearby property in Bath and on Ocracoke Island.The Tecoan, the college yearbook, introduced the pirate motif in its 1934 edition.
Pirates were sea-going bandits in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. It has been reported that in the age of piracy, from around 1680 to 1725, there were about 10,000 pirates who sailed the high seas in search of bounty. But pirates weren’t all bad — the following is from the ECU website,
Although most pirates were feared, they were not the uncivilized roughnecks that they have been portrayed in modern times. The had many positive features. David Cordingly, the author of “Under the Black Flag: The Romance and Reality of Life Among the Pirates,” noted some of their good traits.
- Pirates observed the democratic process by electing their own captains and voting on whether to attack other vessels. They also decided together on when and where to sail.
- In most cases their loot was divided fairly.
- They developed an early kind of disability payment that paid for body parts lost in battle.
- Pirate ships offered equal opportunity for blacks and whites.
- Sailors on pirate ships lived by specific rules. Gambling, for example, was not permitted on ships. Pirates could smoke on board, but not below deck after dark.
But to some, Pirates were still scarier than Teachers, and the name has been in place for more than 80 years.
Only 80 days until college football kicks off!
Our countdown started with the history of different school nicknames:
Friday – Demon Deacons
Saturday – Eagles
Monday – Falcons
Tuesday – Gators
Wednesday – Hokies
Thursday – Jayhawks
Friday – Knights
Monday – Lobos
Tuesday – Minutemen
Wednesday – Nittany Lions (Sick Thursday and Friday)
Monday – Owls (Sick Tuesday)