It’s that time of year again…time to hunker down in front of the TV and watch non-stop basketball, fill out those brackets, and see High Heeled Mama in nothing but Carolina blue until we win it all (this is our year, I can feel it!).
Growing up in the Triangle meant you couldn’t get away from college basketball. I grew up on tobacco road. ACC and NCAA tournament time meant teachers wheeled in televisions to the classroom so we could all cheer on our favorite teams. And everyone had a team. Classes were usually evenly divided between Carolina or Duke with a few NC State fans thrown into the mix. The State fans were usually children of graduates, but those of us who grew up without parents who attended one of the three local institutions of higher learning had to pick.
My very best friend growing up was the daughter of a Duke professor. She took me to a few games. She was a ball girl. I baby sat for her younger brother sometimes – a few times when her parents were giving dinner parties and the Duke Athletic Director was a guest (yes, as a teenager I was forced to dance to Raffi songs in the presence of this much revered (in Durham) man while trying to corral a two year old into the bathtub – I was mortified). Needless to say, I was awed and became a Duke fan (oh, this is so hard to admit publicly!). And it wasn’t a bad thing to be at the time.
Until I was accepted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. All previous allegiances went out the window. Some folks I know never understood how I could abandon my childhood team. Easily. For one, in that area of the country, you don’t get to root for both – you have to pick. And secondly, the moment I decided to attend UNC, I had officially drank the Kool-Aid, so to speak, and it bubbled up from the Old Well.
If any of you know UNC alumni (and several of you are – thanks for reading!), you will know that we have a very strong, impenetrable bond to Chapel Hill. It is a true family feel. We get a little fanatical about it, perhaps, but it’s more than the basketball. It’s the history, the people who have come before us boasting UNC degrees, the sweet spring blossoms in the Arboretum, the chimes of the Bell Tower, the brick paths, the humid classrooms, the pine trees surrounding Kenan Stadium, the state outline on the floor of the Smith Center, the stillness of the old cemetery, the legend of the Gimghouls, studying in the stacks at Davis, not studying in the stacks at the Undergrad, a blue cup (or two), the sticky floors of the Varsity, late night snacks at Time Out andHector’s, friends performing at the Skylight Exchange, Mama Dip, the Flower Lady outside Bank of America, the milk shakes at the counter and the pictures hanging up in Sutton’s Drug Store (and yessiree, I am still in there! Looking very young and VERY 1994!!) and the fact that anyone who went there experienced all these things, too (well, except maybe getting their picture up at Sutton’s!).
It is in that vein that we become fanatical followers of our boys on the basketball court. But I just as strongly cheer for the women’s team, the national champion field hockey team, the baseball team and their two almost College World Series championships two years running, THE soccer team… It is also this sense of family that has the hubby and I still reeling from the recent murder of Student Body President Eve Carson. A senseless tragedy and a deeply scarring event infiltrating the sanctuary of a college campus, which seem to be happening all too often lately.
But I wonder how this crazy love of place will show itself in the peanut. Sure, I want him to know and love this place that the hubby and I know and love so well. Of course it would be WONDERFUL if he wanted to go there. But how do you make sure he doesn’t feel like he would be disappointing us if he doesn’t? And seriously, why am I worried about his college decisions now when he can’t even count yet? Ah, because my greatest fear would be that he comes home one day and announces that he wants to go to *gulp* Duke. I shudder to think!
Good thing we’re on the offensive! Is it wrong that in front of peanut we call Coach Williams and former Coach Smith “Papa Roy” and “Papa Dean” respectively? Is it wrong that he can’t really say my sister’s name but can say “Ramie” (his version of Rameses, the Tar Heel mascot)? Is it wrong that he’s got three Carolina sweatshirts in his current wardrobe rotation?
But no worries family (i.e., in-laws who are Duke alumni and fans), we will continue to only cheer positively for our Heels and will not teach peanut anything negative about Carolina’s opponents. And we will let him know that he is welcome to apply to any college he wants to.
And I promise to spend the next 17 years working on actually meaning that.