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UNC Basketball: The Storm

Some things just feel different. This rivalry is one of those.

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve always loved the feeling that precedes a thunderstorm. Just before yesterday’s squalls blew through, I left my desk to stand halfway out of the door, savoring the feeling of that heavy wind blowing from every direction and none. I love the way the breeze swirls, obfuscating its direction but carrying a promise that is at once exciting and scary. It’s something that has always energized me— that feeling of the world balancing on the head of a pin. I love the gathering of energy in the air, not unlike a wave beginning to crest as it rushes toward the coastline somewhere near Nags Head; it’s a tangible kind of energy, a collective breathing-in that often sends goosebumps running up and down my arms.

Summertime storms carry that energy, as well. If you were only here in the southern part of heaven for four years (or five, no judgment), you may have missed that feeling. The storms that blew through on Thursday carried a very similar feeling to their later-month cousins; a tension in the air that is almost solid enough to grab a hold of. If you’ve spent even a single basketball season here, you may recognize the feeling I’ve described above, even if you don’t associate it with any weather pattern. If you’ve been in downtown Chapel Hill the day before a Carolina-Duke game, you know exactly the feeling I’ve been talking about. Noticing the extra pep in the steps of folks wearing light blue on Saturday afternoon, you’d be forgiven for thinking there was a storm brewing even if the sky is that perfect shade. There’s a different atmosphere on Franklin Street on the day of the rivalry game. It’s a slow but electric buildup to the main event; another iteration of the best rivalry in sports.

I’ve been lucky enough to live most of my life in and around Chapel Hill. The energy that the town has before these games is unlike anything else in the world of sports, and like the feeling before a storm, which to me has always been so similar, I absolutely love it. Game on.