Enjoying the trip to Chapel Hill

Published 9:55 am Thursday, September 17, 2009

Football season has officially begun!

While this is a joyous occasion to many football fans, it is a particularly celebrated time of the year in the Friedman household. My wife and I are both big time gridiron fans, particularly when it comes to college football.

My wife is a born and bred Ohio State Buckeye fan and if you have ever read my column before then you already know that I bleed Carolina blue. Despite her love for all things Big Ten (Michigan aside of course), she jumped into the wife of the year competition by purchasing us season tickets to see my Tar Heels play.

I looked forward to showing her Chapel Hill, the campus and all the festivities that accompany a football game at Carolina. After the first game I have to admit, we both walked away impressed. I had been to a few games in years past, but have never seen the energy and excitement regarding football in Chapel Hill like we saw on the opening day of this season.

We arrived early and took some time to walk around campus. If you have never visited the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill I suggest the next time you are in the area you drive through the campus. It is the oldest public university in the country and is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful campuses on the planet.

Unlike most colleges and universities, Carolina’s football stadium is in the middle of campus and surrounded by trees. We walked by and marveled at the recent renovations to Kenan Memorial Stadium. We took turns having our picture taken with the huge metal ram outside and the larger than life statue of Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice.

We walked the brick sidewalks towards the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower where students were preparing for their normal game day “climb to the top” fundraiser. From there we headed to Franklin Street where we shopped all the Carolina apparel stores and found ourselves some seat cushions for the upcoming season.

It was in one of these stores that I literally almost ran into Steve Robinson, an assistant coach on the basketball team and former head coach at Florida State. I am a big Steve Robinson fan and was excited to speak to him, even if it was just to say hello and apologize for almost running him over.

We ventured through campus and back towards the stadium until we hit Tar Heel Town. It was there that we got a drink and waited for the players and coaches to come by for their ritual “old well walk” towards the stadium. We got to see Coach Davis but more importantly we got to see local gridiron standouts Tydreke Powell and Travis Bond.

Before we knew it the game had begun and 60,000 Tar Heels fans were screaming at the top of their lungs. I got goose bumps at the sound and even my wife looked like a kid at Christmas amidst all the pandemonium. Tydreke and Travis both played great and gave us even more to cheer for.

At halftime the men’s basketball team gathered for one final time to receive their National Championship rings. I got some great pictures of Ty, Wayne, Deon and Tyler as they greeted fans after the ceremony.

In the end my Heels prevailed, but more importantly my wife became an official Carolina fan. She’s still an Ohio State fan first and foremost and that’s ok, I respect that. Still, while I know she will always be a Buckeye at heart, she’ll be spending a majority of her Saturdays this fall with me as we cheer on our Tar Heels.

David Friedman is a long-time contributor to the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald. A Bertie High School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e-mail at dave@gate811.net.