CONWAY — The new video board at Brooks Stadium is ready to rock and roll – literally – for Coastal Carolina’s football opener Saturday night against North Carolina A&T.
Music sang from the crisp new speakers Wednesday evening as workers continued with the finishing touches of the vastly improved end zone video board that is the highlight of several changes around the stadium this season.
“It will be ready to roll on Saturday, and I think our fans will really enjoy the game presentation on that board,” CCU athletic director Hunter Yurachek said.
The outside of the stadium also has a new look as the banners depicting several of the Chants’ past football greats have been replaced with a new set of banners showcasing a variety of athletes, the university and its athletic programs.
Yurachek dismissed the notion that the change had anything to do with former CCU quarterback Tyler Thigpen’s request last December to have his banner removed in the wake of former coach David Bennett’s dismissal.
“It was time for a change,” Yurachek said. “Some of them were starting to tear, and we wanted to showcase some of our current student-athletes, our hall of fame class and our new coach. It was just time for a change there. That wasn’t precipitated by Tyler’s request [for the banner] to come down or anything like that. It was just time for a change for those banners.”
Cross country opens season
The relentless rain that has complicated Coastal’s football preparations this week has had an even more pronounced effect on the Chanticleers’ cross country teams, who had to move their season-opening meet back to Saturday morning and create a 5,000-meter course on campus because the intended path at Hackler Golf Course is too soggy to prepare for competition.
Nonetheless, the Chants plan to proceed with the four-team start-up meet in some shape or form so the coaches can get their first live look at the squads.
For the CCU women, that means watching a veteran lineup take the first steps toward what coach Alan Connie hopes is a bounce-back season for his program.
“We were third last year [in the Big South Conference]. We’re not used to being third, and we’re hungry to get back a title,” Connie said.
The Chants, one of the conference’s most accomplished programs, return considerable experience with junior Emily Marchini (13th at the Big South meet last year), junior Stephanie Taylor (18th), junior Seanna Kautz (28th), junior Shelby Nicosia (21st) and senior Jessica Dennison.
The x-factor, though, is freshman Letitia Saayman, who enrolled at Coastal last January from South Africa. She finished the spring track season as the Big South champion in the 10,000 meters and runner-up in the 5,000. Saayman’s mother used to compete with former South African standout Zola Budd Pieterse, who is a volunteer assistant coach at Coastal.
“We’d expect her to be one of the top runners in the conference, so that’s a big addition,” Connie said of Saayman.
CCU men under the radar?
Meanwhile, the CCU men’s cross country team was picked sixth in the preseason Big South coaches poll, but Chants coach Jeff Jacobs thinks his squad is more talented than that.
Fifth-year senior Kyle Kling leads the team after missing last season due to injury, sophomore Evan Niciphor returns after pacing the Chants last season and sophomore Joseph Keitt, junior transfer Ryan Beckley and junior Cameron Wells round out the top five.
“We don’t have a whole lot of depth on the men’s side, but I think the top five is pretty solid this year,” Jacobs said. “The main thing we’re looking for is improvement, and I think we’re going to be vastly improved over last year.”
HTC to offer “Chanticleer Replay”
HTC, which already sponsors the Chants’ new basketball arena and student recreation center, has partnered with Coastal again to introduce “Chanticleer Replay” – billed as a new premium content service that will provide highlights and commentary of more than 75 CCU athletic contests.
The feature will begin Sept. 4, airing highlights and interviews on HTC Digital Cable Channel 4 in addition to a new CCU athletic category “Coastal Zone” on the HTC on-demand menu.
“Chanticleer Replay” will feature three re-broadcasts of home football games on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. and Thursdays at 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. The games can also be viewed anytime via the on-demand option.
All of Coastal’s home men’s basketball games will also be replayed two days after each game, and “Chanticleer Call-In” with football coach Joe Moglia will be rebroadcast as well.
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318.