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Why I’m a fan of the North Carolina Tar Heels

Celebrating SB Nation’s new look with stories of why we love the Heels. Come share yours too!

Gonzaga v North Carolina Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Welcome to the refreshed Tar Heel Blog! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts [] to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card []. We’re collecting all of the stories here [] and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!

As cliché as it sounds, I can’t ever remember not being head over heels (heh, get it?) in love with the Tar Heels. I’m sure my family thought I was going to grow up to be a huge tomboy because of how much I wanted everything around me to be light blue instead of pink.

I vividly remember my first trips to Chapel Hill as a kid. The first was a trip to Morehead Planetarium on a field trip with my class. I became totally obsessed with everything about UNC as more than just the sports team we always watched on television from that point on. My first game in the Dean Dome with my dad was icing on the cake. I knew then and there that I needed to be a part of all of it.

When it came time to choose a college, the decision couldn’t have been more of a no-brainer. I maintain that receiving my acceptance letter from Carolina is one of the happiest days I’ve had in my 28 years. My heart had been a Tar Heel for a long time already, but that made it official.

Chapel Hill is truly my favorite place on Earth. I love the quad when the leaves change color in the fall, the Old Well when the flowers bloom in the spring, and Franklin Street any time. I love Kenan when the air starts to get chilly, and I love the way the Dean Dome rocks when the crowd is really into it. I wouldn’t trade this place for any other.

While the Carolina basketball team will forever have my heart, the love I have for UNC reaches all over the athletic program. I’m happy to go to cheer on the Diamond Heels with the THB staff, or catch a soccer game, or see a tennis match. Anything that involves cheering on the Tar Heels is right up my alley.

There’s just something about this place that’s different. Maybe from the outside it’s strange to love a city/school/team as much as I do this one, but I know you all understand. I think it’s really difficult to just be a casual Carolina fan without falling deeply in love with everything it means to be a Tar Heel. Who wouldn’t want to spend as much time as possible in the Southern Part of Heaven?

Whether it’s rushing Franklin after beating Duke, emptying your savings account to grab basketball tickets you just have to have, or singing Hark the Sound alongside thousands of your fellow Tar Heels, Carolina fandom is a love that runs deep in all of us.

I asked the other Tar Heel Blog writers why they are fans of the Tar Heels. This is what they had to say.

Akil Guruparan: I started being a Tar Heel fan when Marvin Williams beat Duke in 2005. I went to UNC because it was affordable, close, and was the best school for what I wanted to do, and during my time there, I fell headfirst into the Tar Heel family: it's not just a marketing slogan. And now, in addition to the Heels' tradition of excellence across all sports that I aspire to in my own life, my loyalty to the school is irrevocable after it gave me the best four years of my life. Once UNC gets you, it never lets you go.

Brandon Anderson: When I was growing up, I found that for me personally becoming a UNC fan was rather unavoidable. My favorite NBA player of all time came out of Carolina, which led me down the rabbit hole of discovering just how great the program is. The coaches, the tradition, the way players interact with each other even when they get to the pros. There's a lot to love at UNC outside of wins and losses, and almost nothing to hate.

Matt Ferenchick: I grew up in a place with no local Division I college, and I had no familial or personal connection to any college team. The grade school I went to wore Carolina blue basketball uniforms, which led me to have an affinity for UNC. Over the years, that affinity has grown into a full blown fandom.

Jay Exum: My first memories of being a Tar Heel fan are from somewhere around 1977 or 1978. My dad and both of his brothers were graduates, but the biggest influence was Kenan Stadium. At the time, Dad was a fixture at home football games, and he could count on me to attend, week in and week out. For a kid from a small tobacco town, Chapel Hill on a fall Saturday may as well have been Disney World. The hook set and it never let go, and that was before we even got to basketball.

Jake Lawrence: I was born into a Tar Heel family. Mom graduated in the early 80's. My dad works there now. As a military brat, the Heels were always a connection to my home state, and we followed them no matter where we were in the world. It was one constant in our lives. To this day my favorite QB is Chris Keldorf. My favorite PG has always been Ed Cota (who has always been underrated among all the great UNC PGs).

Daniel Bayer: I became a Tar Heel fan at a very young age because I was drawn to that beautiful Carolina blue. It also didn't hurt that the Tar Heels were really good in basketball (and a number of other sports) at the time, as well. As I got older, I really started to appreciate how great of a coach Dean Smith was and what he meant to the University as a whole. So, that helped to solidify my love for the Heels.

Evan Davis: From day one, I was dressed in Carolina bibs and onesies. I even had a "Tar Heel Toddler" hat. I was brought into the fold at a young age and now have nearly three decades of fandom under my belt. I come from a long line of Carolina alums and fans, with me being the most recent as I earned my master's degree from UNC this school year.

Will Potts: I don't have a reason why I'm a UNC fan. For as long as I can remember, I've been obsessed with UNC despite no one in my immediate family really caring too much for the Heels. So now I'm the crazy relative at family functions watching UNC games alone in the corner on my phone or leaving Thanksgiving early for the NC State game.

So now it’s your turn! Please head over to the Fanpost section and tell us why YOU are a fan of the Tar Heels.

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