Baby blue boosters brave Blue Devil fan barrages
"Go Tar Heels!"
Marketplace employee Shawn Harris remembers the day when this message was written on a chalkboard in the dining hall. At the request of former Duke basketball player Jason Williams, Trinity '02, employees later had to erase it.
Harris said he did not know who wrote the controversial cheer, but whoever it was is not the only Dukie rooting for the University's biggest rival.
The decades-long rivalry between Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is one that attracts national media attention. Basketball season is when fans' true colors-or true choices of blue-show.
"I catch a lot of heat for [being a UNC fan], but I don't think it's anything malicious," said sophomore Derek Song, one of the few Duke students who favor the Tar Heels over the Blue Devils. "It's just joking around with your friends. You sort of laugh it off."
Kathleen Ghio, a freshman from Chapel Hill, said she remains loyal to the Tar Heels despite pressure from her Blue Devil peers.
"I feel like when I grew up, everything was centered around UNC," she said. "We aspired to be everything that UNC was, and it's just so hard to give that up."
Sophomore Chris Cogburn said he was immersed in the rivalry from a young age with a mother and father who attended Duke and UNC, respectively. He decided to express his fanaticism at last year's Duke-Carolina game in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
"I decided to wear Carolina blue, and my friends ended up pouring Duke blue paint on me," he said. "But it ended up okay because I got on ESPN for it."
Cogburn's roommate, Jordan Woodson, a sophomore and a UNC fan, was also in attendance but decided to play it safe, he said.
"I actually wore gray, but I sat behind the Carolina bench. I played it neutral because I didn't really want attention to come out of it [and] I didn't want to look like a jerk being there representing Carolina, but I definitely wanted to watch the Heels play at Duke."
Although these students openly express their support of UNC basketball, Don Jeffries, a housekeeper in Alspaugh Residence Hall, said he likes to keep a low profile and is just a UNC fan who happens to work at Duke.
"I'm kind of like an undercover fan, kind of like my dirty little secret," he said.
Their athletic allegiance aside, Cogburn, Woodson and Song all said they chose to attend Duke for academic reasons.
Even so, Ghio said students like her are constantly reminded that a UNC fan at Duke is an anomaly.
"I'm pretty much heckled on a daily basis in my dorm," she said. "People slid notes under my door about how bad UNC is when we lost to Maryland, saying stuff like 'UNC sucks, Tyler Hansbrough's awful.'"
Woodson said his friends are more understanding when he explains that he's a Chapel Hill native, though they still may not agree with where his loyalty lies.
Although they may bleed Carolina blue, Tar Heel fans at Duke said they still cheer for their home team on occasion.
"His freshman year, [junior] Marty Pocius stayed in my dorm," Jeffries said. "On a personal level, I'd love to see [him] score because I got to see him every day and interact with him.... So it'd be great to see Marty win a game, but if he loses that'd be great too."