My very first trip to Chapel Hill

Site expert Nick Delahanty recently made his first-ever trip to Chapel Hill. What does he have to say about his visit to the North Carolina Tar Heels?!

I’ve been a die-hard North Carolina Tar Heels fan all my life.

Thanks to my mom, I learned that I bleed Carolina blue from a young age, although it wasn’t common in our home state of New Jersey. I’ve watched some of the greatest moments in North Carolina history on television and dreamed that one day I’d have the opportunity to experience it all in person.

Well, that dream has now become a reality as I can now say that I can cross the top of my bucket list.

I’ve heard many times that Chapel Hill is a very special place. Although I believed it, I never fully understood how special it was until I finally had the chance to see it for myself.

With my 30th birthday approaching (not until January, don’t congratulate me yet!), my family thought this was the perfect opportunity to finally get on campus. Since the hours were working in our favor, they planned a busy weekend in North Carolina.

Once we landed at Raleigh-Durham Airport, the excitement really started to build. After the short drive and passing unfamiliar territory on the way, we finally arrived at the Graduate Hotel. If you are an avid UNC basketball player (and Michael Jordan fan), the Graduate Hotel is a great place for you.

We quickly found our way onto Franklin Street as we now approached the areas which we saw swamped with students after great victories. When we were all done eating, we made our way to Sutton’s, a great place to start the trip.

Sutton’s is not your typical restaurant. In fact, it’s marked as a drugstore because you can pick up prescriptions there too. The food was superb like a mini diner and set the tone for one of the many great restaurants we visited during our short stay.

After exploring the storefronts on Franklin Street (and spending a lot of money doing so), we focused on seeing some of the most popular spots on campus. We took the short trip to the clock tower and admired the view up close.

From there we made our way to Kenan Stadium and were very excited that we could make our way into the open stadium to see the view. The following pictures speak for themselves.

We then proceeded to Carmichael Arena, a very popular location in Tar Heels history. Not thinking that we would have a chance to see the court, a friendly worker let us in just before women’s basketball team practice. We watched the team walk onto the pitch and were surprised when redshirt senior Eva Hodgson approached us.

My first thought was, “Oh boy, we’re in trouble for being here!” but that wasn’t the case. I have no doubt that Hodgson could be Mayor of the University of North Carolina as she is just one of the nicest people you would ever meet.

We had a quick chat about the team’s upcoming game (which we ended up attending) as well as the fairly close proximity between our hometowns (we’re from Jersey and Hodgson is from New Hampshire). Of all the student athletes we were able to meet first, I’m sure glad it was her as she was so down to earth and possessed such a bubbly and upbeat personality.

After walking around Chapel Hill, we ventured to Top of the Hill, another well-known restaurant in the area, for dinner. As we sat on the top balcony, I couldn’t help but think how cool it must be to see the students and Tar Heel supporters celebrate on Franklin Street after a big win.

We finished dinner and decided to venture into enemy territory. In our Carolina gear, we cruised around this Durham campus just to see Tyler Hansbrough’s home (Cameron Indoor Stadium).

The first day of our trip was over in no time. Day one was pretty amazing but just wait till you hear about day two.

Dean Smith Center, here I come!

follow us @KeepingItHeel on Twitter and like our fan page on Facebook to continue sharing UNC women’s basketball news, views and updates.