Team Teal! – Sports at UNCW.

 

So I know I haven’t posted in….a really long time, but things are starting to wind up here since it’s only 3 weeks (insane!) until I go home. I’m going to try and fill in the last 2 months as best I can but…well forgive me if I can’t.

As you can see this post is about sports at UNCW, something which I hadn’t really experienced until after I got back from L.A in the last post I made here…

It all kicked off with Midnite Madness, the official basketball season opener, on October the 12th in Trask Coliseum which houses the basketball arena. It is UNCW’s equivalent of the pep rallys you always seen in US films and has all the things you would expect – cheerleaders, dancers, a band and most importantly…Sammy the Seahawk! Sammy the Seahawk is the school’s mascot and the suit is ridiculously tall. On the Wednesday before Midnite Madness I followed the clue posted on the UNCW sports website to find “Sammy” around the campus grounds and win a Midnite Madness t-shirt. (One thing I’ve discovered since I’ve been here is that everyone LOVES a free t-shirt. You can’t really go wrong with them, can you?)

On the night I not only wore my t-shirt but a glowstick necklace (the glowsticks even said “Together we Fly” the team’s slogan!) and some attractive teal facepaint! We walked across to Trask with a load of other students in ‘Trek to the Trask’ and I have never seen so many brightly teal coloured iced donuts in my life! The picture here is me with my roommate Alejandra from Ecuador. After watching the dancers and cheerleaders and the basketball games they had the students participate in they introduced the teams and I couldn’t believe how tall they all were – boys and girls!

School spirit is really strong in UNCW with plenty of people wearing the school colour teal not only to games or to Teal Tuesdays (a weekly spirit initiative day) but everyday of the week! It was really interesting to see everyone getting behind the teams this way since UK universities don’t really have the same level of pride as people in the US have over their teams.

A week or so later (I forget now! This is the problem with not doing regular blogs, ahhh!) Laura and I attended a Volleyball game in aid of Breast Cancer. (I got a bright pink t-shirt I’ve been wearing to bed with pride, haha.) It was really interesting to see how invested people were in a sport I didn’t really think would be that popular! Luckily I’d watched quite a lot of Volleyball during the Olympics in the summer (Did anyone notice those matches went really late?! I definitely remember watching Volleyball gone 1am!) so I understood the basic rules. One thing I didn’t realise was how LOUD it would be, they whack the ball so hard and it really smacks the court hard! UNCW won this match quite comfortably and I was really proud of the talent and enthusiasm the school shows in a sport other than the ever popular basketball!

I wanted to wait until I’d been to a proper Basketball game to really talk about the sport and now I’ve been to one and all I can really say to start off is….I really wish I’d watched Basketball in the Olympics! Haha. I had no idea what was going on for basically all of the match we watched and I do think that sitting in the UNCW bleachers is much better if you a) understand the game and b) understand the traditions, for example the way everyone raised their hands like in prayer when one player was shooting at net? I didn’t really get it but once again I was struck by how much pride everyone there had, especially as it was on a Sunday afternoon at a time you wouldn’t be certain that many people would want to go and watch a game!

I was also amazed by the sponsorship deals – Papa John’s did a competition for free pizza for a year and as you can see TD bank sponsor the ‘Bank Dunk’ that comes up whenever someone makes a slam dunk. I’ve been to tennis events in the USA and a lot of what they had going on during the game – for example reseating people from high up to court side – reminded me of the way the professional tennis events like the US Open do things. I think it’s seriously impressive they still do this at college level!

One more thing I think that needs mentioning when talking about UNCW and sports is the National Anthem before each game. I knew the USA was patriotic but it wasn’t until the singing of the anthem at a Thursday evening Volleyball game that I understood how much! It does make me feel awkward at times – partly because I feel like I can’t be part of things like that – but also for embarrassment at how little we in the UK seem to care about our national identity. I definitely feel that being away from home for a prolonged amount of time has made me consider how important my identity as British, and more specifically as Welsh, is.

I will attempt to make another post VERY soon (Like…tonight, probably.) so I can attempt to catch you up a little bit more!

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