Nothing Could Be Finer

As the old song goes, “Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning.” Personally, I would change the lyrics to say, “Nothing could be finer than to be in Chapel Hill, North Carolina the week after the national championship win.” Not quite as catchy maybe, but man is it true.

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If you’re a sports fan or have any connection to a sports fan or the University of North Carolina, then you watched the game last Monday night. And you know it was ugly.  Both teams were sloppy, no one could hit a shot, and everyone was in the double bonus with fifteen minutes left in the second half. I spent the majority of the game with my eyes closed, mentally preparing myself for the utter devastation of losing the national championship game two years in a row.

And yet somehow (and I still don’t know how), every time I checked the score we were within a few points and sometimes even in the lead. And then Isaiah hit that shot and Kennedy made that block and you could see it in their eyes…they knew. When the final buzzer sounded, it took a few seconds for it to sink in: We won the national championship.  There was plenty of screaming and jumping around as we watched the confetti fall. We watch live coverage of college kids spilling out of bars onto Franklin street. We didn’t go, but we thought about when we did. Later, I may have shed a tear during One Shining Moment. Redemption is pretty sweet, indeed.

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On Saturday we decided we needed to venture over to Chapel Hill to stock up on national championship gear and introduce Finley to one of our favorite places on earth.  And we made sure to pack it all in. We admired Old South and took pictures by the Well. We had blue cups at He’s Not and joked with strangers on Franklin Street. There was something in the air—a certain electricity that’s not there all the time. People were celebrating, yes, but it was more than that. We all got it—how unique this is, how lucky we are to be a part of it.

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I promise that after this post I’ll stop gushing about Carolina—at least for a little while. But there’s something about being on campus in the spring, a few days after winning it all, that makes you want to stop and celebrate. It’s a good day to be a Tar Heel, y’all. Nothing could be finer.

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On Being a Tar Heel

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I don’t write about it here often because people tell me that I can be a tad obnoxious. (I prefer to think of it as passion.) Still, when I think about my favorite things in the whole world, there is one thing that finds its way to top of the list every single time:

Carolina Basketball.

I come by the obsession honestly.  I am a born and bred Tar Heel.  My dad instilled in me a love of all things Carolina—especially Carolina basketball—from the very start.  He passed on the kind of love that can elicit the sweetest kind of euphoria and the worst kind of heartbreak within seconds of one another. It’s the kind of love that makes you want to jump over fires and throw things at the tv.  It’s the kind of love that makes you feel a little giddy when you hear names like Phil Ford or Tyler Hansbrough or Dean Smith. It’s pure bliss.

I was a junior at UNC when the Heels won the 2009 national championship. I will never forget that night—the confetti, the noise, the celebration. I sprinted to Franklin Street with a few thousand of my new best friends to jump over fires and climb trees and sing Hark the Sound at the top of my lungs. There’s just no other happiness quite like that.

Tonight the Heels take the court in the title game for the second year in a row.  As I watch tonight, I’ll inevitably be thinking about Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson and the game that could have been. I’ll be thinking about my sister and how much I wanted her to have a championship like I did before she graduated last May. I’ll be thinking about that last second, punch-in-the-stomach buzzer beater (and I’ll try not to cry).

I’ll be thinking about 2009 and reliving the days when I could actually participate in the shenanigans going on down on Franklin Street. And yes, I’ll be thinking about 2005 and 1993 and 1982 and 1957. Because, dynasty.

I’ll be thinking about Luke Maye’s game winning jumper over Kentucky and Kennedy’s incredible performance versus Oregon.  I’ll be thinking about Justin Jackson draining threes like nobody’s business, and unfortunately I’ll probably be thinking about our free throw percentage.

But mostly I’ll be thinking about how lucky I am to be a part of the Carolina family.  I’ll be thinking about how incredible it is that I’ve gotten to watch so many games in the Dean Dome, surrounded by the kind of legacy most programs never achieve . I’ll be thinking about football games in the fall and picnics on the quad in the spring—how the campus changes colors with the seasons, but is gorgeous in every single light. I’ll think about how I feel every time I hear James Taylor’s Carolina in my Mind and how that little town in Blue Heaven holds some of the best memories of my life. I’ll be thinking about the people I spent four years with there and how being a Tar Heel means you have family no matter where you go. And I’ll be thinking that win or lose, it’s a really good day to be a Tar Heel. Always.

Go Heels!

Friday Links

Friday Links are a round-up of my favorite posts/videos/projects/photos from around the web.

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Happy Friday, friends! Spring peeked its head out just a little bit this week and got me all the more excited for sunshine and warm days. It has been a hard week—there has been a lot of sadness in our church this week, and I’m looking forward to a little soul rest this weekend. Here’s to a slow and restful two days! XO

For your weekend reading pleasure…

  • This video that is EVERYTHING I love about Carolina basketball.
  • This perfect response by J.K. Rowling to a fan who said she couldn’t see Dumbledore being gay.
  • This good-to-know grammar rule. (Confession: I will share any post on grammar. Grammar is my jam.)
  • Some fun DIY projects for your weekend from Paper & Stitch.

*Photo Source

Why I Hate Duke

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“Now I realize that school spirit is a pretty goofy thing to some people, but I’ll tell you something: I hate Duke with an infernal passion undying. I hate every leaf of every tree on that sickening campus. I hate every fake cherub Gothic piece of crap that litters the buildings like hemorrhoidal testaments to imagined superiority. When I see those Dookie boneheads shoe-polishing their faces navy blue on television, squandering their parents’ money with their fratty elitist bad sportsmanship antics and Saab stories, I want to puke all over Durham.

So this is my request, boys of basketball: Tonight, I not only want you to win, I want Krzyzewski calling home to his mother with tears in his eyes. I want Alaa Abdelnaby to throw up brick after brick. I want Rick Fox to take Christian Laettner to the hoop so many times that poor Christian will be dazed on the bench with an Etch-a-Sketch and a box of Crayola crayons. I want Bobby Hurley to trip on his shoelaces and fly into a fat alumnus from Wilmington. Send Thad and Lorna home with their blue tails between their legs.

God bless them Tar Heel boys!”

-Ian Williams (Originally published in The Daily Tar Heel on January 17, 1990)

*Photo Source (Inside Carolina)

A Love Letter to Chapel Hill

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Lately my alma mater’s name has been dragged through the mud. A lot. The academic scandal rocking the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been a hot topic in sports news, and I’m pretty sick of hearing about it. Because it’s not the whole story. It’s not even the biggest part of the story. Carolina is so much more than sports, and I think that story needs to be told, too.

I still remember the day I got my acceptance letter to UNC. I had no idea how much that letter would change my life—how much it would shape the person I am today. Carolina is the place I found my community and my niche. It’s the place I discovered that I love writing and that biology is not my friend. It’s the place I figured out how to stand on my on two feet and the place I heard God’s voice more clearly than I ever had in my life.

My classes at UNC were not easy. In fact, my first few classes at Carolina were a rude awakening to the fact that I had never really had to study before, and I didn’t actually know how to do it. The classes I took at UNC introduced me to new concepts, ideas, and perspectives.  I learned that the world is much bigger than I realized and that there are thousands of ways to think, believe, and live in it. My professors pushed me outside of my comfort zone and challenged me to find my own voice and form my own opinions. I left there feeling confident of my gifts and abilities and prepared to succeed in graduate school or a career or wherever life would take me next.

Not only did Carolina educate me in the classroom, but it also taught me how to be a part of a community—how to live and work and grow with other people. The people I met at Carolina are some of the most important people in my life. During my freshman year at Carolina, I lived in a suite on the sixth floor of Craige with six other girls.  The seven of us quickly became a pack, and over the years those girls became my family–the people I call when life feels too hard or when I have something to celebrate. They are the people I danced with at my wedding and the first people I tell when something wonderful or awful or big or scary happens in my life. If all I walked away with at the end of four years was them, it would have been worth it.

And, yes, I love Carolina athletics—for so many reasons. I love it for the chill that goes down your spine on a crisp October night when the game is close and the first chords of “Hells Bells” sound over Kenan Stadium. It’s the giddy excitement that I feel when I watch highlight reels of Michael Jordan’s 1982 game-winning jump shot, Danny Green’s dunk over Greg Paulus, and anything Tyler Hansbrough ever did. It’s jumping over fires and climbing street signs with complete strangers because, “WHEN WILL I EVER GET TO DO THIS AGAIN?,” and you’re all in love with the same place, the same feeling, the same moment. It’s the fact that everyone gets it—that it will always be more than just a game. It’s when the final buzzer sounds and the band begins to play the alma mater—you wrap your arms around people you don’t know and pay tribute to the “priceless gem” in victory or in defeat.

Did we mess up? Yes, we did—irrevocably and inexcusably. But anyone who has been a part of the Carolina family knows that it is about so much more than sports. What is happening in Chapel Hill right now is disappointing and sad, but it doesn’t change how I feel about my school.

So today, like every other day, I am proud and grateful beyond words that I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  And just in case anyone ever decides to put me in the Ram’s Club video, I am (and always will be) a Tar Heel.