Home > Uncategorized > Going to Duke. Part 3

Going to Duke. Part 3

This is the third and final part of my account of my recent trip to Duke University that includes flashbacks and present narratives. Feel free to catch up by reading part 1 and part 2.

It met my eyes as soon as a opened the door. I didn’t even get a second to prepare my soul for this encounter. Couldn’t we have started out in the duke swimming or lacrosse section of the hall of fame? Instead what met my eyes was a massive likeness of the face of Coach K, etched into a gold plate, positioned about 9 ft high and encased in glass. Below him sat the 3 national championship trophies duke has secured under his watch and the nets from the rims of those games. I stopped. Just like I did that first day in bible study. My nemesis. Years of highlights flashed through my mind in seconds. The Wojo slap, Laetner’s face stomp, Battier’s flops, Capel’s half court heave, Montross’s eye, Henderson’s elbow, Cherokee Parks?, Stackhouse’s slam, Chris Collins v. Matt Daugherty bout, Marvin’s 3pt play…It felt like a lifetime. In a way, it was. My years as a tarheel had conditioned me to view this very moment as if I were Moses and I just encountered the bronze calf built in worship of the false god Baal. Should I shatter the glass and throw down this idolatrous, pagan horror? Then…finally…I took the most important step, the first step…

February 11, 2009. I’m not only a married man, but as of August 8, a father. My son’s room looks like it is sponsored by the UNC student store. The ramses mobile unit that hangs over his crib & plays that same alma mater I’ve sung so many times is my personal favorite item. I can only imagine my father in that exact same place with me some 26 years ago.  See, even as I am coming to respect my nemesis, there is no question where my allegiance lay. So there I sit with my son in front of the television minutes before the his very first UNC v Duke game. Im explaining these past 7 years to him. I’m explaining the rivalry, at least my generation’s experience with it. he’s drooling. Im walking through the scrapbook of my mind trying to somehow transfer my allegiances to him. He suddenly locks eyes with me. I’ve connected! he passes gas. oh well, I tried. 5 minutes into the game he is asleep. And I realize I could turn off the game and all would be well. Carolina went on to win that game, but not because of how much of it I watched. I realized what matters to me, and what I matter to, was sitting right in front of me. Bizarre really, but freeing also. I was no longer a slave to the UNC – Duke rivalry, but a fan. Some will say I’ve lost my edge. Thats preposterous. I’ve sharpened my edge against reality. And I can deal with a UNC loss now. I can hang out with duke people now. Heck, I bet I could even go into Cameron Indoor Stadium now.

On our way out of the Duke Hall of Fame I turn around and take one last look. I’d gone down every major memory lane duke sports has to offer. I stared down tributes to laetner, dawkins, battier, williams, and the K himself. I had lived through it. And a new respect for my enemy had grown as a part of it. See, UNC needs Duke to be good, to be great even. A rival is only a rival because he is a worthy adversary. I’m grateful for their victories and their successes even as much as they hurt when it happens. That’s what makes Tyler Hansborough’s 4-0 record at Cameron Indoor all the more impressive. I actually do believe this rivalry to be the best in all of sports and I am glad to be in the thick of it. But more than that, I consider myself blessed, in the truest sense of the word, to work at a church that has duke and unc students worshipping alongside one another, growing alongside one another, and ministering alongside one another. That may sound trivial, but when I baptized Duke, UNC, and NCSU students all in one day in the same pool, it was quite meaningful. The Gospel is bigger and I am actually in a place where people are more amped about Jesus than they are about their university sports teams. Its cool.

I hope you enjoyed this trip down my life on tobacco road.

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Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,
  1. carl
    March 7, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    A great trip, Spence….go heels!

  2. March 9, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Fun story! All the Shelton Tarheels applaud!

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