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Give a Nugget
Given the spirit of Charlotte's first Homecoming for football tomorrow, I figured I'd reminisce on how and why I became a Niner. I'll open this up now and say that I'm really curious of how you became a Niner…so please write in the comments below!
Growing up in Upstate New York, it never dawned on me that I would someday be a Carolinian. I grew up watching regional colleges play sports, like Syracuse, Penn State, Rutgers, UCONN, Boston College to name a few. I was blinded by large schools and bright lights. Then came a cross road in my life 1995: my parents were moving us to Charlotte. Well, we weren't completely set on Charlotte. My parents had us visit Raleigh and Greensboro as well…but my trip to Charlotte had left the biggest impression.
I remember being a 16 year old taking a tour of Uptown watching people taking their lunch breaks. It wasn't like it is today...people use to only work in Uptown. I remember vividly getting chance to see Ericcson Stadium being constructed and then walking by the big Larry Johnson, Mugsy Bogues and Alonzo Mourning mural. The city was young and growing. They had the Hornets, the Panthers just started....and I was sold!
The bigger coincidence was that we were staying at a hotel that was in the heart of the “new” University City near UNC Charlotte. The shopping center with Wal-mart was just halfway operational. I remember taking a quick drive with my dad and seeing that old sign (which isn't there anymore) that read “University of North Carolina at Charlotte”. There were several undergrads on the front lawn enjoying the weather...beautiful girls sun tanning and some guys playing basketball. I had never heard of it, even asking my dad if was the home of the Tar Heels! Forgive me, I wasn't from here and have loooooong since learned my lesson! He quickly corrected me and said “no, they actually have a really good basketball team”, telling me he remembers them going to the Final Four in the late 70's. My dad is a big sports fan....this apple didn't fall far from that tree.
We finally relocated and I finished up my last year and a half at Providence H.S. During my application process, I found myself leaning toward UNC Charlotte over any other school. I wanted to be an engineer (funny how I went into graphic design….man, we didn't know anything back then) and Charlotte seemed to fit me best. As I was receiving my letters of acceptance….there were none from Charlotte.
I waited for an answer. I even contemplated joining the Navy in my state of denial/depression. But then I wanted to go where my heart was set on going. With a fear of being denied, I finally mustered up the courage to actually call the admission office at Charlotte….in which the lady said “You we're accepted, you should have been notified over a month ago”. And off I went…I was officially a Niner four month later.
Man, I have stories for days about the times when I was in school….but this blog isn't about that. It's about why and how I became a Niner. Just some 16 year old kid who's dad drove by the front of campus that opened my eyes. That beautiful campus called my heart. It somehow grabbed my attention away from these other “big time” schools and that got the old wheels spining; that someday, this would be my university. This would be where you will meet the greatest of friends. This would be where you will meet your wife. This will be the place where you can FINALLY bring your kids to a football game.
The campus has totally changed, and it only looks like it's getting better….and bigger. I can only imagine what the alums from the 60's-80's say about it…but one thing is for sure, there is a huge sense of pride among Niners. Regardless, one way or another….we all have a story on how we got to bleed the Green and Gold. I would love to hear them….
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