There were ten seconds left in the game.
All of us were jumping up and down, and screaming like crazy people. This was it – after an anxiety-inducing, nauseatingly close game we were actually going to rush Franklin!
It’s a longtime tradition for UNC students to rush Franklin after a Duke victory – thousands of students pour out of wherever they were watching the game to run to Franklin Street. Last night, I finally got to experience the tradition for myself.
As soon as the final buzzer of the game rang, all of us inside the Battle House, where I was watching the game, cheered as we simultaneously jumped over and around chairs and/or each other to begin our run to Franklin Street. It was freezing outside, but we didn’t feel it – all we could feel at that moment was pure euphoria.
Within the first minute of my run, a fellow overjoyed Tarheel stepped on my heel, and while I tried to ignore the all-too-familiar feeling of a falling-off shoe, I realized very soon after that I was about to lose my shoe. And then, I actually did.
Rather than panicking, I quickly picked up the lone (and mid-stampede) shoe and then continued my run, wobbling with one shoe down the street, and at a faster pace this time to catch up to my friends.
When I found them, I’ll admit that my left foot was freezing, and becoming very numb. But it didn’t matter – I had the stupidest grin on my face. I was surrounded by some of my best friends, with thousands of other Tarheels, celebrating an awesome victory in the sweetest way imagineable.
I eventually found the time to put my shoe back on, and the rest of the night on Franklin that followed was an amazing blur of chanting, screaming, being pushed & pulled through the huge crowd, jumping over a fire that had burned Duke apparel, and hearing more insults to Duke and Grayson Allen than I ever thought possible.
So yes – I may have no voice today, lost my shoe and bruised the bottom of my left foot, (likely) ruined my shoes with all the ash from the fire, and become more personally acquainted with my fellow Tarheels than I would have previously liked (we were packed into Franklin like Sardines okay) – but my first taste of a victory over Duke was one of the best nights of my life, and one I will always remember.
I’m a Tarheel born, I’m a Tarheel bred, and when I die I’ll be Tarheel dead. Words I’ve heard so many times, but that somehow mean so much more after last night. Singing those words with thousands of other Carolina students as we first reached Franklin together, is a moment I will treasure forever. A moment that has made the Alma Mater I have already sang many times, ring that much more true.
I look forward to the next three years of (hopefully) rushing Franklin, and am so thankful to go to a school where experiences and community like this exist. I’ve loved Carolina since I was eight years old, but nights like last night cause me to fall in love with my school over and over again.
Remember – it’s always a great day to be a Tarheel, and the ceiling is the roof!
(P.S. Go to heck Duke!)