Most 20-somes don’t have the chance to choose where they work. For many college students, the job hunt is littered with rejections of “I’m sorry” and promises to “keep in touch.”
And although I’ve been lucky enough to spend my last two summers in Philadelphia, my favorite office is here in Durham.
Growing up, first in Charlotte and then Philly, I never missed a Duke basketball game. After the Blue Devils won their third national title in 2001, watching hoops alongside my dad was the routine in our house. I even got to see a couple of games in person, but none at Cameron Indoor.
I remember opening my family’s old red jewelry box during Hanukkah 2007 and seeing those two tickets for a game at what I will always consider the best venue in all of basketball, I flipped out. Duke beat Virginia 87-65, but the score didn’t matter. I was inside Cameron.
Little did I know, less than eight years later, that would be the place where I got to go to work.
Being a trombonist in the pep band and a men’s basketball beat writer, I got plenty of perks. I never slept a night in a tent, I never waited in line for a game—unless I chose to—and I didn’t have to cram into a crowded Section 17. But I also always had a job to do.
As a band member, I had to, for one, make sure I didn’t stick out like the mediocre instrumentalist I’ve always been. More importantly, though, myself and the bones had the task of ensuring a safe trip across Coach K Court for the Blue Devil—a task that, each time, inevitably led to someone else figuring out that I was in the band.
Of course, my other role involved sneaking through the front row of painted bodies in the student section to my seat on press row. From center court, I wrote stories and sent out tweets, all while managing to never have my laptop destroyed by a ball or player diving into the stands.
Basically, all of what I did was outside the lines that separate the 4,700 square feet of hardwood from the rest of the building. But I was in that building, a gym unlike any other—partially because of what it means to me and partially because of all the moments that have happened in there.
I’m lucky. Both The Chronicle and band have taken me places I probably wouldn’t have ventured to otherwise. As a freshman, I traveled south to Miami, only to write about women’s basketball missing 25 straight shots in a loss. Later that year, the band took me 2,220 miles west to Anaheim, and that didn’t go much better for the men on the hardwood.
Maybe I just wasn’t the good luck charm. I covered men’s basketball’s buzzer-beating loss in the Carrier Dome as a sophomore, going north to Syracuse, N.Y., and as a junior, I made my way to Omaha, Neb., only to write about Grayson Allen’s final game at Duke. And this year, the band brought me to Washington, D.C., where the Blue Devils’ season—and my two jobs—came to an end, at least for now.
Be it in Louisville or Pittsburgh, Charlottesville or Clemson, I got to work in environments that some might pay hundreds of dollars to experience. And yet, none of them were the same as the one that was a little more than 1,000 feet from my room.
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Cameron Indoor Stadium is a different animal. I never wondered whether all 9,314 seats would be filled on a given night. The answer was always yes.
When I looked up to the rafters, I saw the memories from my childhood—wearing my black JJ Redick jersey in my driveway, only shooting from beyond my chalk-drawn 3-point arc, or sitting on the edge of my seat during the final minute of the 2010 title game, before running in circles around my dad’s apartment after Gordon Hayward’s half-court try bounced off the rim.
From the time the North entrance opens 90 minutes prior to tip until about an hour afterwards, when most everyone has cleared out, Cameron is just like you see on TV. It’s loud. It’s crammed. It’s crazy.
But I’ll always cherish my time in Cameron when it is empty, when you can hear a ball bounce—or maybe even the keys of a laptop being tapped.
I doubt I’ll ever have another office like Cameron Indoor Stadium. And if I do, let’s just hope I don’t find a way to break my foot in there, too.
Mitchell Gladstone is a Trinity senior and previously served as the V. 113 Sports Managing Editor. He’s shocked Hank made it through three years as his roommate, but is grateful for all the sports banter, and would also like to thank past sports editors Ryan and Amrith for opening so many doors at The Chronicle. Plus, he hopes the Eagles remain the adopted NFL team of the newsroom, even when he’s gone.