Being the oldest public university in the United States, Carolina has a long and interesting history and even more interesting traditions that have resulted. However, today I just want to share probably the most important and my personal favourite traditions.
The students of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are known as the Tar Heels. In fact the state of North Carolina is also known as the Tar Heel State. What is a Tar Heel? I can hear you asking me through the screen. Well there are two possible stories to help explain that and I’m going to use the words of UNC to help me. “One story hails back to the Revolutionary War and the troops of British General Cornwallis. After fording a river in eastern North Carolina, the British troops discovered their feet covered with tar, a product of North Carolina’s abundant pine trees and one of the state’s most important exports at the time. Some say the clever North Carolinians dumped it in the river to slow down the invading army. The British were said to have observed that if you waded in North Carolina rivers, you would get tar on your heels.
Another story comes from the Civil War. A group of North Carolina soldiers scolded their comrades for leaving the battlefield when things got tough. The soldiers threatened to stick tar on the heels of the retreating soldiers to help them stay in the battle. General Robert E. Lee is said to have commented “God bless the Tar Heel boys!” Whatever the reason for the moniker, our students and sports teams have long worn it with pride.” Carolina students are extremely proud to be Tar Heels and want everyone to know. Many are brought up in Tar Heel families and for the rest of their lives identify as being a Tar Heel, hence a song and saying has been developed… “I’m a Tar Heel born, I’m a Tar Heel bred, and when I die I’ll be a Tar Heel dead.” Later in 1924, one of the university’s cheerleaders decided that they needed a mascot. At the time, Jack Merrit, known to his fans as the “Battering Ram,” was a popular member of UNC’s football team. Making use of this nickname, it was suggested that a ram should be the Carolina mascot. The school purchased an actual ram from Texas for $25 and to this day the Carolina mascot has been a ram.
Therefore, it makes sense that one should make the most of being a Tar Heel and get a photo with Rameses, a true Carolina celebrity. So that is exactly what I did.
UNC Bucket List item #5: Get a photo with Rameses!
This photo was with Rameses at the Carolina Women’s Volleyball game last Friday night, when Carolina smashed Oklahoma!
I hope you learnt a little more about Carolina and now understand why I say “Go Heels” so often. Traditions like these are what made me fall in love with this university to begin with and I’m so happy that I get to participate and be a member of the Tar Heel community, even for this short period of time.
There are more bucket list posts to come, so stay tuned and thanks for reading!