My heart is torn: A Villanova student who is born UNC fan

David Jarman

Before the Brackets came out on Selection Sunday, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi predicted UNC and Villanova to be in the same bracket in the East Regional, which would be played in Philadelphia. I knew as a diehard Tar Heel fan that Villanova is one of the few teams that can beat North Carolina, and I did not want that to happen. Now that both teams are playing for the National Championship, the thing I wanted not to happen is going to occur in a matter of hours.  


As you’re reading this you may be asking yourself a few things: Who is the author, why is he a Tar Heel Fan, how is he at Villanova, and (if you know the author on a personal level) who is he rooting for?  


I am a native of South Jersey with an Augustinian education background as an alumnus of Saint Augustine Prep. I began my first two years of college at UNC Greensboro (UNCG), because I was aspiring to become a nurse anesthetist, and UNCG was known for their nursing program. I decided to transfer to Villanova, because I was homesick and realized that going to school closer to home would be better for myself and my parents for academic purposes and to gain an overall better college experience. When transferring to Villanova I found an opportunity that allowed me to broadcast Villanova football and basketball games. I then realized I had found my true passion as a student. Now as a communications major, I aspire to achieve my dream as a play-by-play announcer because of the opportunity Villanova has given me. Many faculty members say that Villanova is a place where your dreams can come true. So, I am now trying to make my passion and dream a reality.  


Locally, Villanova is the team that I support. I remember the ‘05 & ’06 teams with Randy Foye, Kyle Lowry, Allen Ray, Mike Nardi and Curtis Sumpter who both made deep runs in the NCAA Tournament. I remember watching the Scottie Reynolds lay-up against Pittsburg live in my neighbor’s room screaming “WOW” at his TV screen, because we were both in shock of what occurred in the final seconds of that game. Broadcasting Villanova basketball games has increased my fan-hood for Villanova basketball and has given me great opportunities. Sitting courtside for broadcasts for home games is a special treat, because I get to enjoy the atmosphere of a Villanova game at the Pavilion, and I have a chance to interact with players off the court. But when people asked me if I was a basketball fan, I told them I’m a UNC Tar Heel fan.  


My grandfather was born in Wilmington, North Carolina and was a fan of UNC growing up. He would pass his fan-hood down to my father, who would pass the same torch down to me. The day I was born, my parents bought me a baby blue UNC “one-zie” and my Godfather bought me my first pair of sneakers, baby blue Air Jordans. In 2005, when I was ten years old, I walked down into my basement and saw my dad watch a UNC-Duke game on TV wearing his Michael Jordan UNC jersey. He educated me on the history of UNC basketball and the rivalry with Duke.  I instantly realized that I was born a tar heel fan and was fortunate enough to watch them win the 2005 NCAA Championship. This was special, because Philadelphia sports teams were coming up short of winning a championship at the time, including the Eagles losing to the Patriots in the Super Bowl earlier that year. So it was nice to see a team that I root for win a championship and experience the excitement.  

When I was in the sixth grade, my Uncle Timmy took me to a few high school games that featured Episcopal Academy’s Wayne Ellington and Gerald Henderson. Henderson and Ellington are best friends but would become rivals in college. Gerald committed to Duke that year and Wayne committed to North Carolina. One of the games I saw was Episcopal Academy against Oak Hill Academy at the Palestra. That Oak Hill team featured McDonald’s All American’s: Michael Beasley (Kansas State), Nolan Smith (Duke) and Ty Lawson (UNC). While watching this game in the infamous arena for Big 5 basketball, UNC Head Coach Roy Williams was sitting about 40 yards directly across from where I was sitting. That summer Uncle Timmy took me to an AAU summer league game that featured Wayne and Gerald. After the game, wearing my UNC Michael Jordan jersey, Wayne was nice enough to take a picture with me (above) and he autographed my UNC hat I was wearing. Three years later, he would be the 2009 Final Four MVP for UNC en-route for Roy Williams’ second national championship.




If this experience wasn’t enough, my father was able to give me the greatest birthday present that I’ll always remember. On February 6th 2008, UNC was playing Duke, and my father thought it would be special if I went to that game. When we drove up to the first scalper, has asked for $500 per ticket. With my eyes opened wide like a bug, I told my dad to pay the man. He said no because, “If your mother found out I paid $1,000 for basketball tickets, she would have a heart attack”. My father eventually bought scalp tickets at a cheaper price that night, and I was able to see the greatest rivalry in college basketball live with my own eyes. Despite UNC losing that night, it will be a memory I will always have because I was able to be a part of the “Battle for Tobacco Road”.  


From a college basketball fan’s perspective, I must have been pretty lucky to have these experiences at a young age. Not only did I have those moments to cherish, but I also watched UNC games with my grandfather, the man who started my fan hood for UNC basketball. I would sit on the couch for hours watching and talking about UNC basketball with “Grandpop,” and we were able to have a special bond together that would last until the summer of 2013 when he passed away. All these memories grew on me and have molded me into the Tar Heel fan I am today. The culture and identity has grown on me so much that I tell people I bleed baby blue from November to April.  


With Villanova trying to seek its first National Championship since upsetting Patrick Ewing and Georgetown in 1985 and North Carolina seeking its sixth National Championship in program history, I have encountered an unfortunate predicament: should I root for Villanova: the school that I currently attend and that has given me the opportunity to make my dream a reality, or North Carolina: the team I have supported since I was a child?  A question that requires a lot of thought and emotion out of me was not simple, but I was able to make it with no hesitation. In one of the scenes in “The Godfather,” Michael tells Frado that he should never go against the family. The picture below should give you my answer.  



You witnessed ’57 against Wilt, Jordan in ’82, Montross in ’93, Sean May in ’05, and Hansbrough in ’09. This one’s for you, Grandpop.