UVA's Final Four Through a Tar Heel's Eyes

Lena Welch ‘20
New Media Editor

When you walk into my apartment, there are a few things you can’t help but notice. First, the Carolina blue. It looks like it was decorated by a seven-year-old UNC fan. Second, I have more than 100 press passes displayed on my walls. When people ask about them, I say they are from my past life. Before law school, I worked in the sports information field, which is kind of like media relations plus keeping statistics for university athletic teams. But it’s misleading to say that sports are my past life. Watching sports will always be one of the most consistent things in my life, and this weekend is a good example of what I mean.

Thursday, like many other 2Ls and 3Ls, I attended the Libel Show, but I also checked my phone during the second act to figure out when the tip-off for UVA Men’s Basketball Sweet Sixteen game would take place. I went home from the show and turned on the TV. Ultimately, I fell asleep on the couch watching the Hoos top the Ducks.

Friday, I downloaded the March Madness app on my phone so I could watch the UNC-Auburn game while attending the UVA-Richmond men’s lacrosse game. Saturday, after watching Carolina’s Men’s Lacrosse defeat Duke in its first ACC game of the season, I attended a party, which turned into a basketball watch party as UVA earned its first trip to the Final Four since 1984. The other partygoers can attest that 1) I said Ty Jerome should intentionally miss the second free throw for the chance to send the game to overtime (even though I never thought it would work), and 2) I told everyone to calm down and not celebrate too much.

Sunday, I went to another Men’s Lacrosse game as UVA hosted first-year program Utah, which is helmed by former UNC volunteer assistant coach and all-around great human Brian Holman, before heading over to the Park for my section’s softball games. All the while, I kept a close eye on the scores from the remaining Elite Eight games, even watching over Editor-in-Chief Eleanor Schmalzl’s shoulder in the dugout.

This is a typical weekend for me. If I’m not attending lacrosse, then I’m attending soccer or wrestling. If I’m not falling asleep to the late basketball game, then I’m falling asleep to football or hockey. So, sports are very much a part of my life––including softball at UVA Law.

I’ve only played in one section softball game. I was dressed like Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez, and I stood in left field, praying the ball would not come my way. However, I have found that my way to contribute to my section, and my way to make a lot of enemies, is by keeping a book. I have a love-hate relationship with baseball statistics, but it’s pretty safe to say that the umpires and the other teams have a hate-hate relationship with me keeping statistics at softball games. And my section just appreciates that I keep the lineup straight. This weekend was particularly special for our section softball team because it marked the return of all-star third base coach and all-star PA Alexander Hoffarth ’18 to North Grounds.

But as much as I care about section softball―and let’s be clear, I care too much―I cannot bring myself to care about UVA sports. Alexander is the perfect counterpoint. He also went to an ACC school for undergrad. He also attended a bunch of sporting events at UVA. And he also is a beacon of school spirit (if you think I’m not, tell that to the children’s socks I bought at Courts & Commerce and regularly wear). Alexander treats the Cavaliers as his team, unless they are playing his Boston College Eagles.

On the other hand, it took me ages to wear a UVA shirt to a sporting event here, because I’m not a UVA fan. I’m a Tar Heel. This weekend, someone even suggested that UVA losses don’t need to upset me and I could celebrate the wins. I pointed out that that is being a fair-weather fan, and there’s nothing more despicable to me. Becoming a fan means taking on the wins and losses. While I’ve come to have quite reserved reactions to the outcomes of games (compare Carolina beating Duke twice this season to Carolina losing in the Sweet Sixteen), that doesn’t mean I want to adopt another team. Instead, I hold my Heels close to my heart, and I attend UVA games to get my fix of live sports.

So, what happens when UVA Men’s Basketball goes to the Final Four? It’s not clear. Some say I should get over myself and just become a UVA fan. Some say an allegiance to the ACC means I should root for the Cavaliers. My dad says I should cheer for UVA so he can win his bracket pool. My mom says I should support UVA because Tony Bennett is “a hottie.”

In all likelihood, I’ll just fall asleep on my couch watching the game.