Time to Turn Up the Heat
by Brian North

The end of July is the hottest time of the year in North Carolina. And that means it's time to start playing some football. The Panthers head to training camp July 27th for two-a-days, high school practices officially start July 31st, and the Pirates report to ECU for preseason practice August 4th. Can you smell the sweat yet?

Hopefully, players have been exercising outside to get acclimated to the hot, humid temperatures. If a player sat in the air conditioning all summer long, chances are he is going to have some problems. If football players are not mentally tough, they will either get that way over the next month, or they won't be able to cut it. The heat of summer is when champions are born.

East Carolina's players have been going hard in the weight room under strength and conditioning coach Mike Golden. The Pirates' strength and speed numbers improved dramatically, which can only help on the field this year. Conference USA coaches have picked ECU to finish last in the East, something that should be used as bulletin board material (not that Pirate players should need much motivation after eight wins in the last three years, but it should be reminder of how far they have to go).

This is a great time of year, hope springs eternal for all players and teams. The possibilities are endless for the upcoming season, from the high schoolers to the pros, and expectations are high for everyone from the Panthers to several local prep teams.

I am headed back to the family farm in upstate New York for my own training camp. Pretty soon the weekends will be filled with the pigskin from Friday nights through Sunday (actually football has become almost a seven-day-a-week game), and we sportscasters have to be in shape and mentally tough for the long season as well. So are you ready for some football? The die-hard fans say yes, it's time to turn up the heat.
Brian North