I don’t often write much about Chapel Hill in my travel blog, but today is a very different day. Today, us UNC students awoke as champions. National champions. It’s a feeling that’s hard to comprehend, and I don’t even think it’s fully hit me yet.
Overall though, there is this intense feeling of pride, excitement and unity among the whole campus and Carolina community. It’s for this reason why I’m telling you that you have to visit a great basketball school or football school at some point. The level of energy is unlike anything else.
On Saturday, after beating Oregon in the Final Four, UNC students “rushed Franklin Street.” This is a tradition where, whenever we win a huge game (any game against our hated rival Duke, the National Championship, and apparently a Final Four game), students and community members all run as fast as they can to the main street in downtown Chapel Hill, Franklin Street. People light bonfires and jump over them, they climb up trees and stoplights, and they celebrate at bars. People did this even just after the Final Four game.
In the two days of anticipation leading up to the game, you could feel the nervousness in the air. Students struggled to focus on anything besides basketball. UNC fans even waited in lines all night Sunday and all morning Monday for the chance to watch the game in their favorite Chapel Hill bar or restaurant.
On game day, UNC fans also clung to their superstitions. I had friends who told me that they couldn’t watch with me because they had to watch in the same place, with the same shirt on, with the same drink and the same snack.
And then the game began. After winning of course, UNC fans rushed Franklin Street like we usually do, this time, in an even more widespread manner. I’ve never seen Franklin Street so jam-packed before. The town even set off some fireworks. UNC Student Stores even started selling national champions t-shirts that night!
After a night of celebration, I awoke this morning with basketball still on my mind. After doing nothing to get ready for my day except brushing my teeth and throwing a t-shirt and shorts on, I walked over to my university’s campus newspaper to stand in line and pick up five copies. Next, I hunted for t-shirts. This evening, I’ve already rearranged my schedule in order to welcome the team back and enjoy the celebration to follow.
This atmosphere here at Carolina, this energy and camaraderie, is something that I don’t think you can experience much outside of a college town with a strong basketball or football program. It’s definitely something that any sports fan should have on their bucket list. The thing about UNC is too, eve if it’s not a huge basketball game, fans still get so excited, and it’s always such a fun place to visit for a game, whether watching in the Dean Dome or a local bar or restaurant.
If you ever do decide to visit Chapel Hill for a game, take a look at my next post, where I’ll share tips for parking, food and drinks in the area.
Have you visited a school with a strong basketball or football program? What did you like about your visit?