March 10, 2021

I Am A Tar Heel


Episode Notes

What is does it mean to be a North Carolina Tar Heel basketball player? In this week’s episode, Neil sits down with two former North Carolina Tar heel basketball players, David Noel and Brandon Robinson.  Noel was a key player in the 2005 National Championship team. Robinson was a key player on the 2017 National Championship team. Neil put on the full-court press to find out why North Carolina versus Duke is the best rivalry in college basketball and possibly in sports. They also discuss the impact Coach Roy Williams has had in the lives of these two players and the Carolina culture. Learn how lessons learned at North Carolina have had lasting effects. This is a special episode for Neil, as a lifelong Tar heel fan and an episode any Tar heel fan will enjoy. Join me as we lace up our Jordan 11 shoes and learn what it feels like to play hard, play smart and play together.

Where did the “Tar Heels” nickname come from?

The term “tar heel” dates back to North Carolina’s early history, when the state was a leading producer of supplies for the naval industry. Workers who distilled turpentine from the sticky sap of pine trees and burned pine boughs to produce tar and pitch often went barefoot during hot summer months and undoubtedly collected tar on their heels. To call someone a “rosin heel” or “tar heel” was to imply that they worked in a lowly trade.

During the Civil War, North Carolina soldiers flipped the meaning of the term and turned an epithet into an accolade. They called themselves “tar heels” as an expression of state pride. Others adopted the term, and North Carolina became widely known as the “Tar Heel State.”

In the 1880s, when UNC teams began competing in intercollegiate sports, they needed a nickname. There does not appear to have been any debate over what to call the teams and how to express school spirit. They were then, and have always been Tar Heels.

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