Following a week of spirited campus activities culminating in a Friday afternoon parade and barbecue supper, the Erskine College Flying Fleet played its first home football game since 1951 on Saturday, March 13.
Three members of the last football team before the reinstatement of the sport— Duddie Bennett ’51, Tom Chandler ’53, and Bob Gorham ’51—were designated honorary captains and delivered a commemorative coin to midfield for the coin toss.
Some 2,000 fans attended the event at J.W. Babb Stadium in Greenwood, Erskine’s home venue for the season. The Fleet fell to the Shorter University Hawks, 24-13.
A flyover was provided by Destin Nichols ’17, a business administration graduate who was a four-year starting catcher for Flying Fleet Baseball.
The opening invocation was offered by Chaplain Josh Chiles. A moment of silence was observed in memory of Erskine College freshman Jack Franklin-Lee Hunt, who passed away in an accident March 12. A member of the Bass Fishing Team, Jack is deeply mourned by his family, his friends, and the Erskine community.
At halftime, Director of Athletics Mark Peeler presented commemorative coins to honorary captains Bennet, Chandler, and Gorham.
Also at halftime, the Rev. Clint Davis, chair of the Erskine Board of Trustees, recognized Erskine President Dr. Robert Gustafson and Director of Athletics Mark Peeler for their work in bringing football back to the campus.
“An enormous amount of unseen effort went into the planning of this day,” Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Relations Paul Bell said. “To see the results in this gathering of people who love Erskine from across seven decades is a wonderful thing.”
A 1984 graduate, Bell especially appreciated the involvement of alumni in the day’s activities. “It was a special privilege to celebrate with Tom, Bob, and Duddie,” he said of the honorary captains. “Destin and Sally Nichols, representing our young alumni, came in their plane all the way from Florida to treat the crowd to the flyover at the beginning of the game.”
Bell added, “The occasion that brought us all together was football, but it’s obvious that what binds us all together is Erskine.”
The team returns to J.W. Babb Stadium Saturday, March 27, to play Edward Waters College as part of Erskine’s Homecoming and Alumni Weekend celebration.
At top, the Erskine Flying Fleet faces the Shorter Hawks. All photos by Kombat Kamera. See more photos here.