The date is Monday April 4, 2005 and the scene is a bedroom in a quaint one-story house in a small town in North Carolina. The family that lived in the house were in the process of moving so the small bedroom was filled with boxes, a single mattress, and a box television set. On the mattress lay two sisters, side by side eyes fixated on the television set in front of them. Most seven and eight year olds would probably be spending their Monday nights watching SpongeBob, but not these sisters. No, these sisters were watching one of the biggest games in all of college sports, the National Championship for men’s college basketball in which the North Carolina Tar Heels were playing the Fighting Illini from the University of Illinois.
In all honesty, the game itself didn’t matter to the young girls, all they cared about is that Carolina would go on to become the National Champions once again. On the backs of Sean May, Marvin Williams, and Rashad McCants the Tar Heels would go on to defeat the Fighting Illini 75 to 70. The next day, the entire family would make their way up to Chapel Hill to welcome the team home amongst a roaring crowd of proud Tar Heel fans.
This wasn’t the beginning of a love affair with Carolina basketball, that had started at a younger age, but this was just one example of why February 8, 2018 would become the day that a childhood dream would come true for one of those sisters.
Fast forward nearly 13 years from that April night, the year is 2018 and the youngest of those two sisters is now a sophomore at UNC.
Anyone who follows college sports, or sports in general, are well aware of the intensity of the rivalry between Duke and Carolina. After all it is the greatest rivalry in sports. So to be able to be in attendance at one of these scholarship essay’s requires a) a substantial amount of money or b) a whole lot of luck. Carolina students receive tickets to this game through a relatively simple process in which a lottery system is used. Every UNC student knows that even if you never enter the lottery but once every season, you HAVE to enter for the Duke game.
It was this system that set a South Carolina student’s dream in motion.
The sophomore had little hope in receiving one of the highly coveted lottery tickets which were primarily reserved for seniors who had never won a Duke ticket through the lottery in their previous three years. But as fate would have it she’d end up winning a Phase 5 ticket to the game she’d dreamed of going to since the age of five.
I won’t waste your time explaining the ins and outs of the phase system, just know that Phase 5 ticket holders are the last to enter the Dean Dome prior to tip off and find themselves seated backs against the wall on the very last row.
The young girl couldn’t care less where she was seated that night, just that she’d be able to witness the game in person for the first (and hopefully not last) time. Win or lose she didn’t care because being in that arena was gift enough.
On February 8, 2018 no records may have been broken nor would any championship be won but to the young girl it was as if she was at the National Championship game itself. Numerous times prior to that night she’d been in the Dean Dome but never had she seen a crowd so electric. It was indescribably loud in the arena and despite UNC being the underdogs coming in the crowd never once let on that they feared defeat (even when Duke took a 12-point lead during the first half).
Have you ever had a moment that felt like an out of body experience? That’s the best way to describe the feeling a UNC fan gets when they defeat Duke, especially when it’s a home victory. That night, as Theo Pinson slammed home a dunk to seal the deal and Joel Berry threw up the ball in the waning seconds of the game to signal defeat of the Blue Devils once again, that’s how the sophomore would best describe the feelings she felt as tears of joy (yes literal tears) ran down her face.
I could sit here and give you a rundown of the play by play of everything that occurred during the game, but that’s not really the point of this story. No, the point is that a young girl was finally able to live out a dream she’d wanted for nearly 15 years, and the cherry on top was the sweet, sweet defeat of the team from a mere eight miles down the road who just can’t seem to figure out that their color blue will never be the right color blue.
If you came here looking to hear about the six three-pointers that Kenny Williams hit that night or the astonishing lack of turnovers Carolina had on that night sorry to disappoint. The truth is that none of that mattered to the story I sought to tell today. While both of those things were an integral part of Carolina defeating Duke 82 – 78 the young girl’s dream was first and foremost to be in attendance at a Duke vs. Carolina game. The win was merely a bonus.
So there you have it. It all started in a small house in North Carolina and as the years would go on the girl’s love affair would only grow until she got to experience both the rush of rushing Franklin Street after winning the National Championship and attending the Duke/UNC game in the Dean Dome. Of course the love won’t stop there, oh no that’s just the beginning of even deeper appreciation for Carolina basketball.
Oh, and if you didn’t pick up on it by now. That young girl, she’s me.Read More