Though I am in Melbourne the beginning days of NCAA Tournament or “March Madness” is still my favorite weekend of the year since I grew up in North Carolina where College basketball is basically a religion. Part of this love for March Madness is I along with every other child in NC is taught at an early age to pick sides in one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports, Duke vs. North Carolina.
Every State has a rivalry that separates friends and families during sports seasons, for us its the Blue Devils vs. the Tar Heels. I am a huge fan of Duke and almost everyone knows it (i even referred to this in a post yesterday) which is why when a friend sent a Facebook message telling me to check out the scores I got a sinking feeling in my stomach. Sure enough Duke a #2 seed had lost to Leheigh a #15 seed this afternoon Australia time. My first emotion was shock, followed by embarrassment because there was no reason why we shouldn’t have won that game, and then laughter. That’s right laughter.
Why would I laugh about something like this? Because it makes me remember my teenage years at Gospel Light Christian School where March Madness felt like the Civil War, everyone was either with the Duke army or Carolina army. One year in particular is burned in my mind because of what happened. During March I made a deal with Cindy Johnson, one of the biggest Carolina fans at the school which would result in humiliation for the losing team. If Carolina lost first she would have to wear a Duke jersey to lunch in front everyone, and if Duke lost I was forced to wear a Carolina shirt. And not just any Carolina shirt, but one hand painted with the words we climbed your hill (Grant Hill) and parked your Cherokee (Cherokee Parks) twice…along with the scores of Carolina’s two wins against Duke that year. Needless to say a few weeks later I was paraded in front of all my friends wearing the t-shirt!
A few years ago during my furlough in the States we were at my parents house at Daniels West Virginia. My mom was pulling things out of a closet and asked me “whats this” I turned around to see her holding the Carolina shirt that Cindy created and started laughing. It must have been put in a bag of clothes to be used as painting shirts but after learning of the “special significance” she actually hung it up in the closet.
When Duke lost today I went back to my Junior year in High School with the home-made Carolina shirt and it reminded me of just how fun March Madness was that year. Maybe its silly getting nostalgic over a hand painted shirt but it is a good memory (even if I was humiliated in the process) and made me laugh. So congratulations Carolina fans you win this year, and Cindy if you ever read this don’t worry, the t-shirt is still hanging in that closet in Daniels West Virgina. I may even send it to you someday, maybe you will get a laugh out of it too.