One wild scavenger hunt, 19 hours studying in a tent and two nights sleeping under the stars, and I was waiting in line to get into the Duke-UNC basketball game. Dressed up in onesies, jerseys and face paint, my 11 tent-mates and I shivered as we wondered if we would even get into Cameron Indoor Stadium for the big event. We beat many other prospective tenters to get a spot as a “Flex Tent,” a new type of tenting cycle that replaced the walkup line. We simply had to participate in the easiest kind of tenting but our spot in Cameron wouldn’t be guaranteed. We spent all this time outdoors gambling that it would all, eventually, be worth it.
We stood outside of Cameron for nearly two hours on game night, eventually being led to our spot just minutes before tipoff. We were placed in Section 19, directly across the stadium from the student section, among people who paid thousands of dollars just to be in Cameron for the coveted UNC rivalry game and the chance to see Zion Williamson. That is, until his shoe broke in the first minute, injuring him and taking him out of the rest of the game. This wound up making national news and causing Nike’s stock to fall by more 1 percent the following day.
Despite the shoe fiasco, the game was absolutely electric. I’ve gone to Duke basketball games plenty of times in the past, but this was my first this year and my first UNC game. The energy in the stadium felt so strong, and I wasn’t even in the student section, which I’m sure was even louder. I can only imagine the atmosphere if we had won or if Zion had played the entire game. The night felt even more special with my direct line of sight of Barack Obama sitting only around 30 feet away.
I was blown away by the displays of school spirit, where students from all corners of Duke go “Cameron Crazie.” I absolutely loved gazing across to Section 17 — the student section — and seeing students with their whole bodies’ painted, wild wigs, basketball gear and funny costumes cheering through the knowledge that their voices would disappear by the next day. The displays of dedication to Duke reminded me of all the things I love about it. We need more moments like these at Duke, ones where all students can socialize and rally around the same goal and the same excitement. I don’t know what else could elicit the same response, but I’ll search for it for the rest of my time at Duke.
I don’t think I’ll tent next year; after all, it does get quite cold in a tent in February. That said, the game inspired me to make the effort to get to more games. Most importantly, though, the Duke-UNC game provided me with an amazing memory that I’ll have forever, even through the tough loss.