Ezell and several of her cohorts in the ETSU athletic department spent part of Tuesday night mingling with fans during the university’s Gametime Tour stop at Whispering Oaks Farm in Gray.
“This tour has really been for us to say ‘please and thank you,’ ” Ezell said. “You ask people to come out and support your program and the ones that do, you have to show your appreciation and your gratitude.”
Tuesday night marked the fourth and final stop on the tour, which gave ETSU coaches and athletic adminitrators a chance to talk with fans. It previously made stops in Greeneville, Morristown and Knoxville. Also drawing a lot of attention were men’s basketball coach Steve Forbes and football coach Randy Sanders.
“It’s been fun traveling around with Steve and Randy and watching the reactions,” Ezell said. “I think the ‘E’ is pretty powerful right now. We have a good thing going and I’m really optimistic about everything on the horizon for our whole department.”
Like Ezell, Forbes has never shied away from promoting his team, and the tour has given the popular coach a chance to intrigue fans with his stories.
“It’s been great,” Forbes said. “We’ve had a great chance to interact with our fans in the eastern part of the state. It’s always good to get out and meet people in a casual manner and thank them for their support of our program.”
Forbes said the feedback he’s gotten has been positive, even though his team that won 16 games in a row at one point lost its last three regular-season games and fell to UNC Greensboro in the Southern Conference championship game.
“I think everybody’s happy with the season,” Forbes said. “They know that I’m disappointed with the way it ended, even though we did get to the championship game. That was very encouraging. I guess it kind of shows you where our program has come when we won 25 games, went 14-4 in the league, and I’m discouraged.”
Sanders has yet to coach a game for the Bucs, but he’s already feeling like a part of the family thanks to spending time with fans along the way.
“It’s been good to get out and see the support we have in the community,” he said. “I think a lot of people are excited about ETSU and what we have going on. Obviously, we are excited about what we have going on.”
Sanders missed the team’s spring game while he was on administrative leave for slapping a player in the helmet during a spring practice. He’s back at work now and ready to move on.
“It was something that was there, something that the university dealt with and the team dealt with,” Sanders said. “I think everybody’s ready to move forward at this point. I was pleased with what I saw in the spring game. The kids went out and played hard. They gave great effort.”