North Carolina Tar Heels: My First-Ever Trip To Chapel Hill (Part Three)

Jan 22, 2017; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; A general view at William Donald Carmichael, Jr. Arena (Chapel Hill). Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 22, 2017; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; A general view at William Donald Carmichael, Jr. Arena (Chapel Hill). Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

Site Expert Nick Delahanty’s final day of his visit to the North Carolina Tar Heels was yet another memorable day before he headed back home.

Day two of our trip to Chapel Hill was a dream come true.


There are times when I still pinch myself to check whether or not it was real. Fortunately, it all did happen, as my night at the Dean Dome was one I’ll never forget.

Saturday was our final day in my version of Disney World, as we were scheduled to take the very short flight back home on Sunday morning. Before we headed home, we still had some more adventures planned, as we were making our way to Carmichael Arena to watch Courtney Banghart and the UNC women’s basketball program take on TCU.

Before we went for the afternoon tip-off, we began the day on Franklin Street, eating breakfast at the Carolina Coffee Shop. Yet another outstanding dining establishment in the area, as we really lucked out with all the great food spots that we checked out.

We had some time before we had to make our way to Carmichael, so we walked around and saw some notable areas on campus. The Old Well was one of my personal favorite spots on this mini-tour, as we had an absolute picture-perfect day to take in all the sights the campus had to offer.

On the court, the Tar Heels were as good as advertised. By watching them live, you easily could see why they are regarded as a top team in the country, as they have an abundance of talent and aren’t even at full staff yet!

When you think of this year’s squad, it’s very difficult not to discuss Deja Kelly.

Needless to say, she’s as good as advertised.

Kelly didn’t necessarily shoot the ball well in this game, but she impacted the game in so many ways. Even with an ankle injury, she flirted with a triple-double performance, as she once again was a major reason why the Tar Heels picked up the victory.

This next statement shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, but it needs to be said: Alyssa Ustby is one of the most underrated players in the entire country.

Yes, she’s earned some preseason recognition, but I’ll make the case that the trio of Kelly, Ustby, and Kennedy Todd-Williams should be considered one of the best trios in the entire country.

Ustby is truly a difference-maker. We’ll get back to her in a bit, but it’s safe to say that she will once again play a major role for the Tar Heels this season.

Overall, North Carolina got off to a great start, went on a bit of a slump, but picked it right back up to complete a blowout victory over their Big 12 foe.

If you haven’t taken notice of the UNC women’s basketball program yet, I suggest you do so. With Banghart at the helm, the UNC women’s basketball program is in great hands. Not only is she a heck of a basketball coach, she genuinely cares for her players, as her bond with them goes well beyond the court.

The group of girls on the floor are very likable, as they make it very easy to root for them. I’ll give you a few examples of that.

During the summer, I came in contact with Ustby, as I hoped to interview her for our site. She had quite a busy summer playing for Team USA, so the interview got delayed (hopefully we’ll still make it happen at some point soon!) but we remained in contact over time.

After the game, we were able to meet up in person, as we had a quick conversation and took a picture before a swarm of young fans made their way toward her.

My family also saw Eva Hodgson, who remembered us from the other day at practice. At first, I was surprised she recalled who we were, but that’s just the type of person she is. I said it in part one and I’ll say it again: she is simply one of the nicest people you’d ever meet.

I firmly believe that she would the perfect Mayor of the University of North Carolina. My family saw first-hand why she’s such a fan favorite in Chapel Hill.

If you’ve read my work over the past year or so, you know I followed the high school career of Paulina Paris, who spent her final two years at Saddle River Day in New Jersey. I couldn’t wait to see her in Carolina blue, as she’s a gifted athlete who could be the next big star for the UNC women’s basketball program.

After the game, we were once again starving, so we went for dinner at the Carolina Brewery, another establishment with great food and a lively atmosphere.

The final line of business on the trip was watching the UNC football program capture the ACC Coastal Division title in a nail-biting victory over Wake Forest. It was very cool to actually be in Chapel Hill for this moment.

All good things come to an end, as this amazing weekend flew by in the blink of an eye. You can ask my family, co-workers, and students, I haven’t stopped talking about the trip all week long, and quite frankly, I don’t think I’ll stop talking about it anytime soon.

I’ve always known that Chapel Hill is a very special place. Now that I’ve experienced it first-hand, I can vouch that it is different than any other university in the country.

Of course, my experience doesn’t happen for everyone. I literally had the storybook type of visit that I personally couldn’t have imagined prior to it even if I tried.

This trip will always hold a special place in my heart, as I’m grateful to my family for not only making it happen but for being there to experience it with me.

Without a doubt, I can’t wait for my next trip to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I’ll be back soon!

UNC Basketball trio named to Wooden Award Watch List. dark. Next

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