Pirate Athletics Media: How we got here

Students celebrate a touchdown during the homecoming football game. Riverside defeated Chapel Hill 47-21. Photo by Tate Gasch

There is nothing I love more than a silent gym. 

Setting up the gym during fourth period before a big game, anticipating the excitement that is to come. The issue was, in 2020, it stayed silent. Fans, including parents, were not allowed to attend games. I certainly didn’t enjoy this silence. I knew I wanted to build a student section, but as a sophomore in the middle of a pandemic with no foreseeable ending at the time, It didn’t seem very possible during my time at Riverside. 

One day before the Hillside game, Coach Strickland told me that he wanted to buy a radio station to broadcast our basketball games. To be completely honest, it was all I could do not to laugh. I responded something along the lines of “That would’ve been a great idea twenty years ago. Unfortunately, most of our student body probably doesn’t know what a radio is.”

I thought about it more during the game and proposed that we use social media to provide live coverage throughout the 2021-22 basketball season. This was the plan going into our interest meeting. 

I talked about my vision for Pirate Athletics Media, Strickland talked some, and he said something about covering all sports live. This was never my intention, but I was willing to give it a try. 

We started with just game coverage for football, soccer, and volleyball. While we had hoped to expand to other sports, we simply didn’t have enough people at the time. We broke out some new ideas for basketball season, including themes and halftime games. The spring season presented some challenges. All of our members played sports, so 90% of the spring coverage was done by myself or Ben Rizzuto. 

I knew that wasn’t a sustainable plan, so we recruited new members for this year.

Almost everything we have implemented up to this point comes from Strickland. Multiple times per week I receive a text saying “swing by my room I have an idea.” That’s where most things start. 

Once in a while, I’ll go to him with some crazy idea of my own, like a 3v3 basketball tournament that the whole school can attend at lunch, and somehow convince him and Coach Duncan to convince the administration that it is a good idea. 

Everything we do boils down to my mission behind starting this: build community through sports. 

That’s why I love our football student section.   Everyone is crowded in chanting and supporting Riverside. My hope is that we can continue to build that into basketball season and beyond. 

I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Pirate Athletics Media. As Strickland always says, “why worry about being the best in Durham? We want to be the best in the state.” 

That is my hope for the future of Riverside and Pirate Athletics Media: to be known for school spirit and social media presence, and to stand out among all other schools, every season. 

Over the summer and as the year began, I selected two juniors to be co-vice presidents and take over when I graduate. Tate Gasch is the president of SGA and has the most Pirate Pride at Riverside. She’ll continue to get people excited about events and keep our school spirit up. 

Lauren Powrie creates over half of the content you see on the account, so it only makes sense that she’ll run the Instagram and posts side of things next year. She’ll continue to implement her own ideas and sense of humor. 

Two years later, the gym is far from silent on gameday, and the stands are full for every football game. I’m looking forward to building our student section for basketball games this season and sustaining the school spirit that was seen all around campus in the fall.

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