Heels

“LET’S GO HEEEEEEEEEEEELS!!!!” I scream at the top of my lungs as I watch those beautiful Carolina blue clad boys pour their hearts and souls out onto the court. But I can’t hear myself. I’m loud, there’s no getting around it – I’ve gotten in trouble for the Italian and Croatian in me all my life – but I cannot hear a single word.

The Carolina Way means together. Together we rise, together we fall, together we remain. We barely sat the whole game. It took form just as most Carolina Duke games do, infuriatingly close and exhaustingly intense. The kind of intense that makes your hair stand on end. The kind of intense that dissolves the physical barriers separating us, morphing and molding us each together into one cohesive unit, one vast expanse of Carolina blue. I cannot hear myself scream because my frenzied shout is mixed into the loud and desperate pleas for a foul and cries to play smart, the profane exclamations of what Dook players deserve and wild cheers for Paige as he sinks another 3 from those all around me. We are one Carolina. We are the Tar Heels.

Every single seat in the Dean Dome was filled tonight. That’s 21,750 seats.  A sight like that – 21,750 seats coated in bright Carolina blue, like the sky on a gorgeous day beaming down on the Tar Heel State, is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life. Everyone in the stadium has one thing in common. Everyone in that stadium, with a few small exceptions, is on the same team. We put it all aside and go for the ride – we jump, pull our hair, clap and grab onto strangers. We explode with resonating ‘TAR’S’ and respond exuberantly with wholehearted ‘HEELS’ in collaboration and unification. For two nail-biting hours, we all bleed the exact same shade of blue.

It was a heartbreaking end. My last game in the student section, my last shot at rushing Franklin Street during my four years here. There was frustration and sadness everywhere I turned but we didn’t leave when the buzzer rang. We couldn’t. With tears in our eyes and heavy hearts we held each other around the waist and began.. “Hark the sound of Tar Heel voices…” One last time. We rise together, we fall together, we remain together. And in the end of it all, we came together for one last round of “GO TO HELL DOOK” and I’m positive, it was the loudest rendition there ever has been. To hate like this, they say, is to be happy forever.

Carolina, I am so very grateful for every single day I have with you and regardless of the final score tonight, it is, as always, a GDTBATH.

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