Catching Up with "The Voice"

Only months after two emergency surgeries, in response to a cancer diagnosis, "The Voice of the Pirates," Jeff Charles has slowly recovered and subsequently made his way back into the broadcast booth.

In the last five months, East Carolina has been invited to a new conference, won a postseason basketball tournament and introduced a new athletics director. The school is transitioning into a new era of Pirate athletics, an era that "The Voice," Jeff Charles plans to be a part of.

Charles, who recently celebrated his 25th year as the play-by-play man of ECU, was diagnosed with colon cancer in December, but has slowly returned his way back to good health and subsequently back to his post in the broadcast booth.

After two surgeries that saved his life and a nearly month of chemotherapy sessions, Charles was handed a clean bill of health and able to return to his courtside seat at Minges Coliseum on Feb. 13 to call the remainder of ECU's home basketball games.

With Charles behind the microphone, the Pirates won four straight games on their home floor in the College Postseason Tournament to clinch a berth in the championship game.

Their opponent was the 30-6 Weber State Wildcats and the game was to be played in Odgen, Utah, where the Wildcats were previously 18-1. At this point, Charles had not traveled with the team since his diagnosis.

Despite the health risks associated with air travel, he wasn't going to be left behind for arguably the most important game in the program's history. Though, he couldn't have done it without some help.

"The most significant thing about it was the university stepping up and allowing me and my wife to go on the charter. I couldn't have done it if she wasn't able to go," said Charles.

On April 2, ECU pulled off the upset, 77-74, on a last-second three from Akeem Richmond for the program's first championship in a postseason tournament.

Charles had to wait for the officials to confirm whether or not the shot was on time before announcing his signature phrase, "you can paint this one purple," but his call of the CIT championship's final moments will likely be remembered as one of his bests, given the circumstances.

"You go on hundreds and hundreds of road trips…this one was special," said Charles. "Nothing really compares to that."

Charles is preparing for his eighth of twelve chemotherapy treatments this week, but says they are mostly precautionary at this point to make sure he stays cancer-free.

"It's not a day on the beach, but I'm handling it well," said Charles. "I still have a ways to go. I'm not out of the woods."

Following the series of treatments, he will undergo his third and final surgery in August, but fully expects to be in the broadcast booth at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for ECU's home opener against Old Dominion Aug. 31.

"Looking back on the past year, it's been a bitter sweet one for me...It has put everything in perspective because you never know what's going to happen the next day."

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