Just under 24 hours ago I watched the UNC men’s basketball team play in the national championship, something that for years I had dreamed of being a student to witness. At the beginning of the night – in a moment of clarity between chanting the fight song and feeling so nervous I could vomit – I realized that the night was something I would never forget and I reminded myself to soak it all in. It was hard to soak in that last 4.7 seconds.
I love Carolina Basketball, and I loved this team. I loved watching Marcus Paige sink an unthinkable three pointer to tie the game with 4.7 seconds left. I loved watching the team play their hearts out and come back from being down by 10 points when they could have given up. And I loved seeing Tar Heel basketball alumni in the crowd cheering on the boys we have all become so fond of over the past few years. But, I didn’t love Villanova hitting that three pointer at the buzzer.
It was a feeling of defeat and sadness that I wasn’t prepared for. It made a silence wash over a crowd that seconds before was deafeningly loud. Paige hitting that three was an all time high, and Villanova hitting that three was an all time low. I sat back down at my booth with my three roommates and we all stared in silence, unable to process what had just happened. With tears welling in my eyes we began the longest walk down Franklin Street I will probably ever take.
I barely looked at my phone after the text from my mom “I’m so sorry” made me immediately start to cry. And when I saw my brother leaving He’s Not and hugged him, I couldn’t control my tears. Maybe it was because I grew up watching him agonize over Carolina basketball and in the past few years grew to truly understand why, or maybe it was because I knew just how much UNC meant to my family and couldn’t swallow the pain. I cried hard enough to lose a contact from one of my eyes – which came to be a perfect metaphor for my night.
The rest of the walk home was partially blurry. I’m extremely blind, so losing one contact sent my vision for a loop. As corny as it sounds though, the different views I had from each eye represent the emotions of that night. My blurry eye represented the defeat and sadness that I was feeling, and my clear eye represented just how proud I was to be a Tar Heel and watch that team play.
You see, there was something special about this team – a team that stayed poignant and strong through some of the roughest times for the Carolina basketball program – and it was one hell of a time to watch them this season. I’m so incredibly lucky to have been a student during this time, to have had the opportunity to pile into the Dean Dome and watch some incredible games and to have experienced the pride and excitement that washed over the campus leading up to the game yesterday.
There is something special about the University of North Carolina. There is nothing like being a Tar Heel, and I think it’s hard for people outside of the university to understand. I’m extremely lucky to go to a school that I love this much and win or lose, its always great to wake up a Tar Heel!