8 Miles on the Carolina Way
I love UNC. I love the quad in spring and the arboretum in the fall. I love the Pit on a sunny day and Graham Memorial Lounge on a rainy one. I love Roy all the time. But what makes UNC truly special is not our beautiful campus, our distinguished reputation or even our basketball team. It’s us — the student body — who make UNC what it is.
~Eve Marie Carson Nov. 19, 1985-March 5, 2008~
I could tell you about the celebrities that were on hand including Peyton and Eli Manning. I could tell you about the dunk over Greg Paulus that hammered home Danny Green’s statement game. I could tell you about the history of the game. I could tell you how much baggage is loaded into those eight miles between Chapel Hill and Durham. I could list off names of players from both teams that have been hated over the years. I could tell you how proud I am just simply looking at the box score. I could tell you how Tyler finally didn’t have to score 30 points for us to win. I could tell you how we played as a team and our defense looked better than it has all season. I could tell you how Duke gave us the scare of a lifetime when they tied the game and then went ahead by one basket. I could tell you all of that, but none of it means a thing.
Instead I want to tell you about how the game began. Two basketball teams stood facing each other from opposite sides of center court. One team locked arms. The other team bowed their heads. For one fleeting moment, the Cameron Crazies held their tongues, Dick Vitale tossed his “baby’s” to the side, Roy Williams rubbed the Carolina blue ribbon on his lapel, and everyone in the building and across the country watching could hear a pin drop. They had gathered for the bi-annual meeting between the two teams, but this time it was very, very different.
The game changed on Wednesday night when bullets riddled Student Body President, Eve Marie Carson’s body in the middle of a quiet neighborhood street just off campus. As of today, there have been no arrests. To hear anyone on that campus tell it, Eve was the epitome of a North Carolina student and some even say she was the most popular student on campus. Let’s put that in perspective. Undergraduates number over 17,000 in Chapel Hill. In five years as an Alabama student, I couldn’t tell you who any of the Student Government Association president were, but I got the feeling last week that all 17,000 students could have told you Eve’s name even before she was killed. She spoke as often as she could about the Carolina Way, which, she would say, is what makes the University more than just a place – it’s what makes it a home and an identity. She described it as a commitment to UNC’s prestigious reputation, support for students, academic freedom, service to the public.
For that moment of silence Duke offered UNC Saturday night, I am incredibly thankful. It was as if the 8 miles blurred and didn’t exist. North Carolina and Duke gathered together. And as much as Duke might not like to admit it, they showed the Tarheels the Carolina Way because it is something that doesn’t have to belong to one university. It’s a spirit and an embodiment that represents common decency and compassion to your fellow man. And for that I am grateful for all 225 meetings of this rivalry that brought us to Saturday night at center court.
Thanks for showing the Way, Eve. Rest in Peace.