A little Tar Heel’s big day

Here is Sunday’s column from The Herald. You can read Allison’s take on her day here.

Here’s the column:

“Go Tar Heels!” she hollers.

She’s decked out in her new North Carolina cheerleading outfit, at least 12 years away from being able to wear one the young women don on the field, and at least two years away from her current outfit actually fitting her the way it’s supposed to.

That doesn’t matter, though. She’s wanted a Tar Heels cheerleading outfit forever. “My whole life,” she might tell you. So she doesn’t care that it’s about three sizes too big. It was the smallest one the UNC Student Stores had, and the best one she’s seen. Most of the ones around her hometown are for toddlers. And she’s a big girl.

That Student Store was crazy, by the way. So many people. So many Tar Heels items.

Such a long walk to get there.

Daddy had to park the car near the hospital — easily the biggest hospital the little girl had ever seen. And Mommy worked there? No way.

It’s two hours before kickoff, and even though they are meeting friends who have parked at the business school deck all the way on the other side of campus, the Student Store has to be the first stop. It’s that cheerleading outfit. They’ve got to at least look.

Daddy doesn’t mind the walk, though, even if he has to carry the little girl for long stretches. (He does feel guilty though when Mommy has to carry her.) The little girl is quickly finding out why the town is called Chapel Hill, but she’s excited anyway.

So is Daddy. The north part of campus is beginning to come into view. As they take a quick right, the marching band’s percussion section is playing in The Pit. Before weaving through the crowd with the girl in his arms, Daddy points out a few things.

Those brick buildings over there? Those have classrooms in them. They look a lot different than your school, huh?

“That’s where they have school?”

And right in front of us, that’s a library. Big, huh?

“A library?”

And this is a library, too. And that tall building over there? Guess what that is?


Another library.


Daddy thinks it’s good right now, his daughter at 6, to know where the libraries are on campus. Certainly can’t hurt.

But this isn’t a day to study. It’s a day of fun and football, and with Miami in town, it’s a big game for everybody wearing Carolina blue.

The little girl, though, doesn’t really know who or what a Miami is, and couldn’t care less. She just wants to see the Heels.

First though, comes the longer walk back down to where the friends are tailgating. Sure, Daddy could’ve planned this better, but sometimes that’s the way it goes. Besides, the girl gets to see more of the actual University of North Carolina this way.

So they walk. Past the Bell Tower. Past Kenan Stadium again, which is starting to get crowded. Walk some more, and the hill comes into view, and at the bottom of it, the Smith Center.

That’s where the basketball team plays, Daddy tells her.

“When are we going to get to go there?”

Soon, Daddy says — and hopes.

They meet up with Daddy’s friends from college. The little girl has a root beer and ribs from the grill. She’s smiling in the unseasonably warm November sun. The ribs finished, she smiles even more. She knows she can put her cheerleading outfit on now.

And so begins another walk. Back up the hill and over to the football stadium, which, for the little girl, is the biggest one she’s ever been in. They find their seats, the Air Force jets fly over, the band plays and the ball is kicked into the air.

“Go Tar Heels!” she hollers again.

“Say it with me, Daddy. One, two, three…

“Go Tar Heels!”

She likes seeing the ball get kicked in the air. Punts for the little girl are fun. So are extra points and field goals.

Interception returns for touchdowns are fun for Mommy and Daddy — and most everyone else. Fun for the little girl, too, especially when Daddy lifts her up to see as the players rush for the end zone (the painted part). Fireworks illuminate the black sky as night and the Miami Hurricanes fall, and the three of them share a very similar smile.

Walking down the stairs to file out of the stadium, the little girl sees two pom poms left behind by a couple of students. She looks at Mommy with anticipation welling in her eyes. Mommy nods, and the night is complete.

The little girl doesn’t fall asleep on the ride home. How can she? As soon as she gets home, she calls her Grammy and her Grandpa to tell them all about her day. She’s still wearing the Tar Heels cheerleading outfit.

Five nights later, she sleeps in it.

Mommy and Daddy think that’s just fine.

Especially Daddy.

1 Comment

Filed under Alex Podlogar, College Basketball, College Football, Designated Hitter, Miami Hurricanes, North Carolina Tar Heels, Sports, Sports columns, The Sanford Herald, UNC Tar Heels

One response to “A little Tar Heel’s big day

  1. Jamie Stamm

    So cute, Alex! Made me think back to one of Cera’s first football games, also against Miami. She spent the whole game rooting against the Tar Heels because, “I really like the duck.” (Stupid mascot!) Thankfully, she’s changed her tune since then. Who knows – maybe some day our girls will wear Carolina blue together as students at our alma mater 🙂

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