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It’s kinda difficult to remember when you first became a fan of team—not when you first became aware of sports happenings going on, but when you really understood what was going on and invested. My story of becoming an NC State fan is dull, because I am a second-generation NC State graduate. I never had a choice (and I’m fine with that); I could have had it another way, but that never would have felt sincere.
I graduated high school in Tucson, Arizona, and I could have gone to Arizona or Arizona State and never looked back. (And man how funny that would have ended up being had I gone to ASU, what with the whole Herb Sendek thing.)
But I also grew up in Raleigh, and when I got to a point where I started to actually invest in sports, Jamie Barnette and Torry Holt were doing some impressive things on the football field. Funny thing when I look back now is when I was in middle school I actually thought State was a football school because Holt and company at least were decent, whereas the basketball team was an irrelevant crap factory that appeared to be playing in a dusty basement.
Hey, listen, don’t take issue with me on that opinion, okay—take issue with 1997 me. I’m just the messenger.
I have a vivid memory of my first game as an NC State student at a game in Carter-Finley, because that was just one of those life moments I had been looking forward to—y’know, being an active member of the student section, watching Philip Rivers throw a touchdown pass, enduring the passing scent of marijuana that pervaded sections seven and eight.
I owe that to Jamie and Torry, who together did some awesome shit, but I also owe it to my dad, who took me to State’s win at Texas in 1999, who was sure the basketball team would be in the top 10 by time I enrolled in 2001, who rescued me from a monsoon during State’s home game against East Tennessee in 2002, who was a willing traveler to football games at UNC and Wake and Virginia Tech and South Carolina and various bowl games no one will remember.
I could have gone to school somewhere other than NC State, but I would never have had any of that, and it’s pretty hard to imagine that alternative. I’m really glad I don’t have to.
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