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CCU Atheneum: Coastal Carolina Chanticleers celebrate capturing the national championship of the NCAA College World Series. Go Chants!
Coastal Carolina Chanticleers celebrate capturing the national championship of the NCAA College World Series. Go Chants!

The view from Omaha: CCU faculty and staff who were there

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Several Coastal Carolina University faculty and staff members traveled to Omaha to cheer on the Chanticleers in their unprecedented bid for the College World Series championship. They were eyewitnesses to some of CCU’s finest hours. The Atheneum caught up with some of the fortunate attendees and asked for their impressions of the big event.

Marjorie Thompson, director of philanthropy

We are sitting in the Omaha airport waiting to board our flight home. This is our second last day in Nebraska in two weeks! We have truly experienced Midwest hospitality during our time in Omaha. From the hotel staff wearing teal shirts, CCU flags and banners decorating store fronts and restaurants to the postman rolling down the window of the mail truck to shout “good luck today!” wishes to us as we walked towards the stadium, we have felt warmly welcomed and right at home in Omaha.

The atmosphere around the stadium was electric. The carnival-like “baseball village” was lively and bustling with fans during our stay – from magnets to sweatshirts, you could find the CWS logo and team souvenirs everywhere. It was awesome to see teal shirts on people who may or may not have ever stepped foot in South Carolina but they embraced our boys and university with a passion. I loved seeing the short stacks of CCU apparel in comparison with the other seven teams and hearing the stores say they could not keep our apparel in stock – selling out of anything with Chanticleers on it.

It was great to see so many alumni and CCU fans together at such a special event. The memories are the best souvenirs ever.

Our boys represented themselves, their families, our community and University with class. They were the darlings of the tournament. And rightfully so.

Dean Hudson, director of procurement services

The trip to the championship series in Omaha was an unbelievable and unforgettable experience. We had people in the airport wanting to take pictures with us because of our teal, and lots were walking by saying “Go Coastal” or “Go Chanticleers.” Omaha was a great place, and everyone there really made it a wonderful experience. All the locals we met were pulling for Coastal. We had numerous opportunities to answer the “what exactly is a Chanticleer?” question, which we did with pride.

We had the chance to see and talk with several of our players during their off time. These guys are just great ambassadors and represent our University so well.

We met an incoming freshman and his mom who were trying to buy all the teal they could. The young man, who is entering the marine science program, was beaming with pride about the decision he had made to come to Coastal. He said he couldn’t wait to get here.

The first thing I saw when I got to the stadium was the team’s bus with its beaming teal colors and logos. And then above it was the CCU banner there among those of the other schools. It sank in at that point that Coastal had indeed arrived on the national scene. Sure the baseball team was the reason our name was there, but the way Coach Gilmore and the current and past players have gone about building the program just exemplifies how all of Coastal has built itself over the years since 1954.

Chris Johnson, executive director of the Chanticleer Athletic Foundation

It's hard to describe just how welcoming and supportive the people of Omaha treated the Coastal team and our fans. Everywhere we visited across the city, locals of all ages were cheering for the Chants. The multitude of vendors selling T-shirts and hats literally could not keep CCU merchandise on their shelves. The teal nation has expanded westward – thank you, Omaha!

To our loyal Chanticleer fans who made the trip to Omaha: You were simply amazing! I know of fans who drove for days, were delayed in airports, lost luggage and yet stayed determined to get to the College World Series to cheer on the Chants! Thank you! You have memories for a lifetime!

Mark Mitchell, professor and chair of the Department of Marketing, Hospitality and Resort Tourism

While away, I was also teaching an online customer service class. As a marketing guy, my consumer life often gives me great examples to bring into my classroom.

It is a privilege to serve as the University’s NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR). A primary focus of my role is to address issues of student-athlete well-being. We are encouraged to periodically travel with our teams to truly understand the time demands on our student-athletes and to see first-hand their experiences when representing the University away from campus. Against this backdrop, I was invited to travel with the baseball team to the College World Series in Omaha.

Early in the trip, I had a brief conversation with ESPN broadcaster Kyle Peterson. He noted that “it’s great you guys are here.” The people of Omaha rallied around us. They purchased their teal and wore it proudly. When traveling around town in teal, folks would wish the team well. During that final game, one of our most vocal supporters was a fellow from Omaha sitting behind me. He loved our story. He loved how we played the game. He loved his Chanticleers. Amazing to see.

Our alumni and friends of the University traveled to Omaha to represent the Teal Nation. They want to maintain their connection to their university. They want to be part of the success they assisted in building. Our baseball team won by playing selfless baseball, each player performing their roles to the best of their abilities. Folks stepping up when their team needed them to do so. They put their faith in their coaching staff and the process of preparation to play on such a big stage. I truly believe the lessons of sport are great life lessons. As we celebrate the success of these student-athletes, I believe they offer us a great guide to achieve the true potential of this great university. Chants Up!

Melinda Hyman

I began following Coastal baseball almost two decades ago when I started working in the athletic department. Through the years, my husband and I traveled with the team as they participated in regular season, tournament, regional and super regional games. One of our most memorable trips was in 2005 when we flew to Arizona to support the team in the NCAA Regional tournament. During these times, we developed a friendship with Coach Gilmore, his family, the coaching staff and many of the players. What began as a love for baseball quickly turned into friendships that would last a lifetime.

As the team bus left for LSU on June 9, I sent Coach Gilmore a text message. In the text, I reminded him that I would soon be retiring from CCU and I only wanted a trip to the College World Series as my retirement gift. Ten days later, I was packing my bags and boarding a plane for Omaha where I would support the baseball team on the biggest stage ever.

Prior to the first game on Sunday, June 19, many of Coastal’s former baseball players met in front of the stadium for a group picture. It was there that I was reunited with many of the young men I had cheered for and traveled with for so many years. With the exception of winning the championship, this moment was the highlight of my trip. Dozens of Coach Gilmore’s former players were in the stands cheering wildly for a group of young men they had never even met. Their desire for the team’s success was a testimony to the feelings they still have for their coach and for the program.

Of all the road trips I have taken with the CCU baseball program, this was without a doubt the most memorable and most special. Because, you see, I flew back into Myrtle Beach on the plane with the CWS National Champions!

 

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