RAMblings 7.14.08 - A Run Through TitleTownOne of my favorite
rituals is a five-mile run around campus and Franklin Street early on Sunday mornings.
Everyone else is still asleep, there’s no traffic and the afternoon sauna has
yet to materialize.
by Lee Pace
I start at
the old Kenan Field House, make my way past Boshamer Stadium and the Law School
to central campus, make a lap around the central campus/McCorkle Place block
and then head west on Franklin Street to the Courtyard. I turn left and run a
block to Cameron Avenue,
then wind my way through the Westside neighborhood, the hospital complex and
back to Kenan Stadium.
wanders hither and yon for these 40 some-odd minutes, and this week I was
ruminating about the “TitleTown USA”
storyline that ESPN is featuring this summer. Its SportsCenter program is traveling to 20 communities with vaunted
sports heritages and attempting to anoint one as “TitleTown USA.”
I thought Green Bay was holding in
there fine as the original and incumbent TitleTown (I’m a Packer fan from way
back; my youth league team in the 1960s was outfitted in Green Bay Gold). But ESPN
is auditioning other big-league cities (as in Boston
with its run of Patriot-Sox-Celtics titles of recent years); other college
towns (Gainesville has been home to back-to-back
University of Florida
championships in football and men’s basketball); and even high-school hotbeds
such as Massillon, Ohio (where Washington High has collected 22
state football titles).
Chapel Hill can certainly make a strong case as my Sunday
morning jaunt reminds me with each stride:
On my right
is Boshamer Stadium, not yet the home of a national champion but certainly a
contender in the future with the College World Series presence of the 2006-08
baseball Tar Heels.
On my left
is Frances Henry Stadium, home of coach Karen Shelton’s juggernaut field hockey
program葉he reigning NCAA champion and a five-time national titlist since
Shelton began leading the program in 1981.
Soon I turn
left on Raleigh Road
and skirt past Carmichael Auditorium and, beyond it to the left, Fetzer Field.
Carmichael, like Boshamer Stadium presently undergoing a
significant physical makeover, was a cauldron of excellence for decades as Dean
Smith’s vaunted basketball program rose to national heights, including the 1982
championship squad led by Michael Jordan, James Worthy and Sam Perkins. Not to
be overlooked is the 1994 women’s team that finished first on Charlotte Smith’s
electrifying shot at the buzzer.
Field was the incubator for a brand new women’s soccer program in the early
1980s, and coach Anson Dorrance led it so superbly that the Tar Heels
established a dynasty out of the gate and have collected 19 national titles
over 26 years and spawned megastars in the game like Mia Hamm.
women’s soccer team bids adieu to Fetzer each November, the springtime gives
way to men’s lacrosse, a sport the Tar Heels have mastered as NCAA champions
four times葉hree under coach Willie Scroggs and one under Dave Klamann. A
coaching change is in the offing for the Tar Heels, and the new leader, Joe
Breschi, is a former Tar Heel himself and was an assistant coach the last time
the Heels won the NCAA. So he knows a thing or two about TitleTown.
Franklin Street at eight
o’clock on a weekend morning is a sublime place, the early morning sun casting
a warm glow on the old buildings and the aroma of Ye Olde Waffle Shop’s
delights wafting in the air. I think back to Final Four celebrations用ost Georgetown in 1982 and post Illinois in 2005. Thankfully, I was on Bourbon Street
myself in 1993 after the Michigan
nears its end as I turn left from Manning
Drive onto Ridge Road, looking far to the right and
the Smith Center sitting in the distance. SportsCenter telecast its Chapel Hill
spot from the new basketball museum a couple of weeks ago and interviewed Roy
Williams about the specter of Tar Heel hoops and the broad scope of Carolina’s athletic
“We have a chance to win the national
championship in several sports every year,” Williams says. “To me, that’s title
with a sprint through the parking area beside the old Kenan Field House, then
cool down by walking around the hedges surrounding the football field. On fall
mornings at this time, youth groups are cleaning up the debris from the
previous day’s football game. Curiously, this is Chapel
Hill’s most noted venue but the one without a title葉he personages
of Charlie Justice, Don McCauley, Lawrence Taylor and Julius Peppers
In just two
months, the old venue will be filled once again; this year, all season tickets
have been sold. Hope springs eternal once again for the Tar Heel faithful葉his
time the vision of one Butch Davis providing the catalyst. There’s a missing
link to Carolina’s
TitleTown campaign, for sure, and as I drink my water and stretch my
hamstrings, I’m anxious once again for the storyline of another football season
this link starting July 24 to vote to for Chapel Hill: