Excerpt from a post UNC-Duke game conversation:
"Did you ever think that I'd be calling you crying about a college basketball game?" -Me
"Thank you for saying that, because I seriously wanted to." -Dad
"[Laughter]"-Both of us.
When I came to UNC as a freshman, I knew basketball would be a big deal. Michael Jordan, a sea of Carolina Blue, and "Jump Around" filled my thoughts as I looked forward to our first home game. I went to Late Night with Roy, and thought "Wow. This is intense." Little did I know that my freshman year excitement and curiosity would turn into a full-blown obsession filled with four years of heart-stopping moments and screams at televisions and rival basketball teams I never thought I would utter. I never thought I'd have aching calves for the first few minutes of a game after I jumped with everything I had until tip-off. I NEVER thought I would leave a game in tears, trying desperately to explain that I was both happy, sad, nostalgic, and proud all in one moment.
Growing up, I was never a huge sports fan. I watched my brother and sister play soccer constantly, and tried about every possible sport myself. But watching sports or connecting with a team and following them with passion was something that I never really did. I would laugh when my dad would mutter (or sometimes yell, although he denies it) comments at the TV when Georgia Tech would play football or basketball. I would look at my mom and say, "He knows they can't hear him, right?" Now I'm the one doing just that. It's a similarity my dad and I share that I never expected, but that I absolutely love.
I'm not ready for home games and student sections and screaming until my voice is hoarse to be over. I'm not ready to stop screaming every time that Brice Johnson dunks or Marcus Paige makes a three. I'm not ready to say goodbye to my quickening pulse and the feeling that my heart is literally rising in my throat and squeezing a friend's hand and watching the final seconds count down on the clock to result in a Carolina victory. I'm not ready to stop singing the alma mater after every game, win or lose. I'm just not ready, at all.
When I attended my last home game as a student, it hit me. Being a part of this has become as a key part of me and a part of how I identify myself and the world around me. My final comfort in graduating is this: I will be a part of this school, this rivalry, this team for the rest of my life. I will be proud of this team until the day I die. I wasn't Carolina born or Carolina bred. But when I die, I will be a tarheel dead.
Coach Roy Williams said it best: "Other folks wonder why we’re obsessed with this place. Being a part of the University of North Carolina is something that you never really get over."