Since October 2003, Britt Johnson, the deep-sea fishing expert from East Carolina, has had the opportunity to do something that everyone should be lucky enough to do at some point in life, live their dream. Johnson’s dream, for as long as he can remember, was to be a football player at the University of East Carolina.
“I’ve been an East Carolina Pirate for as long as I can remember. I’m 22 years old right now, so I guess technically I have been for about 19 years. After being born into such a strong East Carolina family, I don’t I have another option and I’m very glad I didn’t. “
Johnson’s parents Don and Wanda, both ECU graduates, were taking their son to ball games in Greenville long before he realized what was going on. Not only was Don an ECU alumnus, he had also been a manager during the Pat Dye era, which was highly successful.
The Johnsons live in Rocky Mount, which is only a 45 minute drive from Greenville. This has been a convenient place to call home over the years with as many trips the family has made to the Emerald City. Britt loves her hometown, which she refers to as “The Rock,” but she also realizes how living so close to Greenville has benefited her in terms of her family being able to attend her games.
His younger brothers, Will (19) and Grant (16), are staunch pirates, but they also pursue their own athletic dreams. Will is a baseball player at Barton College in Wilson, which is about 30 minutes from Greenville, while Grant plays various sports for the Rocky Mount Gryphons. However, despite some conflicts, they can take advantage of most of their older brother’s games. This means a lot to his “big brother” and is something he definitely does not take for granted.
“It’s a great feeling on Saturday to look up in the stands and see my brothers Will and Grant dressed in purple and gold and to see them cheer and support me as I’m living my dream.”
Johnson also values the presence of his grandparents in his games, but more importantly, the support they have always provided him.
“It was also great to see all my grandparents at my games.”
Jack and Doril Henderson, your mom’s parents, haven’t missed a game.
“Since I’ve been on the team they haven’t missed a game and they also made sure they joined the Pirate Club. They are, without a doubt, staunch pirates.”
Her father’s parents, Donald and Mildred Johnson, are just as supportive.
“They have supported me my entire life and have followed all my athletic endeavors. I am very grateful for that.”
This proximity to East Carolina has allowed the Rocky Mount native to miss just three Pirates home football games since 1987. Britt’s earliest memories of attending an ECU game are from that 1987 season.
“The first game I remember going to East Carolina was in 1987 when ECU played Florida State. What I remember most is that he wanted to leave the game with 12 minutes to go in the first quarter. My dad didn’t. Let that be. it happens and I’m glad it didn’t because I would never think of leaving a game early. “
Following his graduation from Rocky Mount High School, the former Gryphon center and snapper deep knew he was going to attend East Carolina to pursue his lifelong dream of playing soccer for his beloved Pirates.
Due to his lack of size, the 5-8, 223-pound Johnson knew his niche would be in the deep snapper. After reaching the ECU, he went out for the computer twice, but was unsuccessful each time. Frustrated, the staunch pirate thought about losing his dream, but knew he couldn’t give up because that’s not what pirates do.
On September 30, 2003, Johnson was attending East Carolina’s Tuesday night home game on ESPN against the Houston Cougars when the opportunity presented itself as a result of an injury to the Pirates’ starting deep snapper.
“Brandon Howard, our long snapper, was injured that night,” recalled Johnson. “We saw him limping off the field and he didn’t come back. After the game, I went and waited in the locker room and he told me he had torn his ACL.”
“A couple of days later, I walked up to Coach McManus’s office. He was the special teams coach at the time, but he wasn’t in his office, so I gulped and said to myself, ‘Well, I have to go. to The Big Dog. ‘So I went to John Thompson’s office and when I walked in I started introducing myself and he said,’ Britt, I know who you are. We were about to call you. “
“He told me to show up at practice the next day ready to play for him. I went out and ended up dressing for the rest of the season. I’ve been with the team ever since.”
While Johnson met his goal of being part of the team at ECU, could his experience in purple and gold seem somewhat incomplete if he never enters the field to play a snap?
“It’s not an opportunity. I certainly would love to be able to finish next year as a senior if I have that opportunity, but if not, I can still walk away with my head held high knowing that I fulfilled my childhood dream. Great to be a pirate from East Carolina “.
With Johnson’s senior season on the horizon, he reflected on his best memory as a member of the East Carolina football team.
“Without a doubt, my favorite memory as a player was walking into Carolina’s dressing room before the game and seeing my shirt and pants there in my locker, knowing that I was about to put on the shirt that I had dreamed of wearing all my life. The jersey, running through the tunnel with the smoke and hearing 46,000 fans screaming at the top of their lungs for you, it was a feeling I’ve never experienced in my life. “
You can’t wait to experience the same feeling six more times before your gamer days are over.
Being such a staunch, lifelong Pirate, Johnson is sure to have great memories of the Pirates – games, seasons, players, plus his days on the team.
“My favorite memory as a fan, by far, was experiencing the entire 1991 season and seeing the Peach Bowl comeback against NC State.”
“My favorite ECU player would have to be Jeff Blake. He’s the first quarterback I really remember seeing in his entire career. The quarterback who took ECU to the promised land in 1991!”
During his time at East Carolina, not only was he able to live his life’s dream of being on the Pirate soccer team, but he also made many great friends through soccer, which he will never forget.
“My most missed memory will probably be not seeing the guys I’ve seen every day of my life for the past four years. Our friendships will last forever, but they won’t be the same. I’ll also miss the feeling that you start the day! of the party knowing that he is about to go into battle with his brothers, the feeling of knowing that he is willing to die for these boys on the field every Saturday! “
As Johnson’s time as a Pirate player runs out, he spoke about the future of the East Carolina program under the leadership of Skip Holtz.
“We are a program on the rise,” Johnson said. “Coach Holtz is great and has surrounded himself with a staff that is as good as any we’ve had here in East Carolina in a long time. I hope great things start to happen here. I just hope everyone gets on board and comes on. and get on the boat with us. It will be a fun trip. “
On November 11, 2006, East Carolina will host the Marshall Thundering Herd on Senior Citizens’ Day. One can only imagine the bittersweet thoughts that will run through Britt Johnson’s head as she races to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for the last time.
“It is going to be a very sad day for me. This is a day that I have been dreading since I came to ECU. Knowing that this will be the last game of my life is going to be very difficult. I will be crying and grateful for the opportunity that the Lord gave me to be a part of this program. I will kiss my mom, hug my dad, greet my family in the stands and then go get ready to beat Marshall. I’m also glad to know that technically this won’t be my last home game because I plan to host the conference championship. “
Unfortunately this dream, like all dreams, will come to an end, but what a dream it was! Britt Johnson doesn’t want to be woken up just yet, as she hopes the dream she’s living will conclude with her Pirates winning a bowl game.
However, when the dream is over, rest assured that this pirate will bleed purple and sweat gold until the day he dies.