Published: Aug 22, 2012 12:29 PM
Modified: Aug 22, 2012 12:30 PM
When former East Chapel Hill diver Nick McCrory arrived home last week, there was a large contingent of well-wishers, autograph-seekers and fans awaiting him in Terminal 2 of RDU International.
Most of them were wearing Duke blue. Many also were waiting on the arrival of Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, or McCrory's Duke University diving teammate Abby Johnston.
McCrory had won a bronze medal, Johnston a silver, and Krzyzewski had coach the U.S. men's team to a gold. Duke diving coach Drew Johansen outdid Coach K — coaching David Boudia, Johnston and McCrory to gold, silver and bronze.
Duke had arranged a little welcome-home reception at RDU for its Olympians, complete with a TV set-up for a media briefing, and a good crowd showed up.
Michelle Kasold was there among the well-wishers. Another East Chapel Hill alum and athletics star, Kasold bid McCrory hello and goodbye Wednesday evening in RDU.
She had likewise had competed for the USA in the 2012 Olympics, and she had arrived from London separately from McCrory via a Chicago flight.
A 2009 grad of Wake Forest, Kasold came into Terminal 2 quietly, barely noticed by much of the Duke-oriented media.
The U.S. field hockey team did not enjoy a stellar Olympics. As Rachel Dawson, a 2007 grad of the University of North Carolina and now a Chapel Hill resident, put it: "We failed, epically."
Team USA got great results in its first two matches of play in the Olympic's powerful Pool B, defeating favored Germany and world champion Argentina. Then, for whatever reason — a lack of preparation, cockiness after the first wins, karma, fate … whatever — disaster struck in a 3-1 loss to New Zealand.
Needing to win out to get into the medal rounds, the disheartened U.S. field hockey instead lost 7-0 against South Africa.
"We got what we deserved: a playoff game for 11th place," Dawson blogged from London.
Argentina, the team the USA beat in pool play, went on to win the silver medal. That reveals all that needs be known about what could have been for Team USA.
Last Wednesday, Kasold still looked as if she wore the after-effects of the last three games. There wasn't much joy in her piercing blue-gray eyes as she arrived home.
"We had high hopes for the games, and we knew our potential, so we were a little disappointed," she said.
Nonetheless, Kasold may have had a fuller experience than McCrory.
Kasold got to attend the men's basketball gold-medal game, won by the United States. And, while McCrory's competition schedule prevented him from attending the opening ceremonies, Kasold enjoyed them immensely.
"It was really cool seeing all of the athletes in one place — not just our hockey team or the divers, but everyone, together," Kasold said. "Everyone was chanting 'U-S-A' and cheering.
"That’s when it’s real. When you're actually in the stadium, you're thinking, like, 'This is real life. I don’t believe it but it’s actually here.'"
Even though McCrory, pulled out by coaches to practice in Sheffield, didn’t spend as much time in the Olympic Village as Kasold, the fellow East Chapel Hill alums did see other.
"We did bump into each other in London," she said. "I watched him in diving trials and knew he was doing well. One time we were going into the Athletes Center and I saw him and I just said 'Hey, Nick; we went to the same high school.' So we reminisced about Chapel Hill.”