Published: Feb 05, 2012 02:00 AM
Modified: Feb 06, 2012 05:58 PM
Back in the early '80s when I was a UNC student, I was a member of a rare breed: a student who did not care one iota about sports.
I'd be at a mixer and someone would say, "Brad Daugherty just walked in! With Joe Wolf!" or something like that. And I, in my ignorance, would say, "Who?"
I thought it was funny ... and maybe a little bit cool.
But looking back, I missed out on a really sweet part of campus life. This year we took our son to a Carolina football game, and I'm not ashamed to say that when they played that searing guitar riff of "Hark the Sound of Tar Heel Voices" over the loudspeaker, I got chills - even though it was about 95 degrees out there!
I looked over at where the students were sitting and it occurred to me that they were having a grand time - and I could have done the same had I not been so ... "cool." (I put "cool" in quotes because anyone who knows me will tell you that I'm a huge nerd, and not cool at all!)
I guess a big part of my apathy was because of my complete lack of athletic ability. Yep, I got picked last for every team and got yelled at in gym class. I then spent a good deal of my college days sitting on my derriere studying or watching MTV. Despite my dad's best efforts to involve us in the sporting life, our whole family is more artsy than athletic.
My interest in sports growing up was confined to watching gymnastics in the Olympic Games. In 1972, I couldn't take my eyes away from Olga Korbut's fluid routines.Watching gymnastics is still a great pleasure, and last weekend, I discovered I can watch it nearly weekly in Carmichael Arena. My friend Grace, who teaches at UNC, invited me to see one of her students, who is on the UNC women's gymnastics team, as they competed against William and Mary.Even though it was not one of the "big" sports, the venue was completely open for business - with refreshments, cheerleaders, pumpin' music and meet-and-greets with Ramses. So if you want your kid to have the good UNC sports experience, you can skip the crowds and traffic of a major event and opt for one of these more "underground" competitions. I felt like I had stumbled on a best-kept secret of sorts.
And, unlike one of the mainline sports, we were able to sit right up close to the action.
The girls (or do we call them women?) were beautiful and very, very strong. I took gymnastics for P.E. in college, and I did not even have the strength to lift myself up onto uneven parallel bars.
And they are lovely, full-grown women - not skinny little girls like you see in the Olympics these days. I can only imagine what kind of practice and precision eating goes into forming those acrobatic machines that are their bodies. The muscles in their legs call to mind one of those anatomy lesson statues that shows the muscles - but lovely, not gross. And after each girl completed her routine, she would be greeted by her coaches and all her teammates with encouraging words and high fives all around.
I'm happy to say that the UNC women's gymnastics team triumphed over the William and Mary "Tribe," but, honestly, I really didn't care. It was such a rush to be there, basking in all that school spirit, all that physical grace and mutual respect.
What a great treat for me - a longtime gymnastics fan, late-to-the-party UNC supporter, and firm believer in girl power.