Carolina-Duke Rivalry

I’ve had some pretty insanely awesome experiences as it relates to sports in my life from hosting at the Winter X Games for ESPN in Aspen to cheering in the NFL Pro Bowl for the Falcons in Hawaii to standing beside Adam Sandler as an official NASCAR Dream Team Girl as he performed his Grand Marshall duties at Talladega, but to this day – I am not sure anything even closely compares to physically sitting on that basketball court inside the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill for what is quite possibly the biggest rivalry in all of sports… the Carolina-Duke basketball game!  

As someone who was fortunate enough to land a spot on the UNC Dance Team during my college days, cheering on the Tar Heels (both during football season and basketball season) will forever hold a very special place in my heart that most people will never be able to even closely comprehend. I cannot explain the intensity and excitement that the entire state of North Carolina endures tonight as two of the best teams in all of college basketball meet in Chapel Hill for our big game – and for the few who have experienced the atmosphere – it is something only we can truly understand.

With the Blue Devils and Tar Heels residing only 8 miles apart in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina – the two campuses still seem worlds apart! We only cross over when we have to and tonight is one of those nights. I can remember my Carolina-Duke games as if they were just yesterday. Sitting literally on the court in what is arguably the best seats in the house cheering on our Heels. The squeaking of the sneakers. The blowing of the whistles.  The pounding of my head with the intensity of the crowd. Staring into the beautiful sea of Carolina blue all the way to the rafters. The anticipation of every free throw. The starting up of the Marching Tar Heels band as us Dance Team takes center court for our moment to shine. And the many prayers going up that once again, God (the maker of our Carolina blue skies) would grant our Heels yet another victory against those Devils!

And the very best part? That it was my friends that I was cheering on that were running up and down that legendary basketball court surrounded by our student body who shared that commonality, that love, that passion for our school and what it meant to be a Tar Heel! And that all of this was with my very best friends cheering immediately to my left and to my right – the young ladies who are now strong, beautiful women who have forever altered my existence as star players in this life journey of mine!

And I love that my daughters (who were born in Atlanta but as Tar Heels, of course) have inherited the passion of what it means to not just love a team, but to identify entirely with OUR team. We don’t just cheer on the Tar Heels, we ARE Tar Heels. We don’t just bleed blue, we bleed CAROLINA blue!  And tonight – we hold our pom poms high in the air because we are forever CAROLINA GIRLS!


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