Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and it marks the birthday of my favorite sweatshirt—the one I bought at the Duck Shop in Durham, NC when I was a junior in high school, which was 14 years ago. It’s a little shocking to me that it’s been that long; it seems like just yesterday that I was becoming a Duke basketball fan.

I’ve already told you the story of how I met Freshman Roomie, but let me tell you how she converted me to be a Duke Basketball Fan. Basically, she took me to a game in Cameron Indoor Stadium. This was back in the mid-90s, when you could still occasionally purchase tickets to a Duke game without being a multi-thousand dollar donor to the Iron Dukes. We had tickets for games around the Thanksgiving holiday, when the students would be out of town. That trip was mostly uneventful—it wasn’t until the next year that my obsession reached fever pitch, so I mostly just became interested in the university*.

That year, I also went to Freshman Roomie’s UNC vs Duke party in March, and watched us lose to Arkansas in the National Championship game (and was super-pissed that my boyfriend was cheering for Arkansas, no matter that he was from that state). All the other girls had their assigned players. Freshman Roomie loved Cherokee Parks. GinerG, her wild cheerleader friend, loved CHRIS COLLINS!!!!** I didn’t have an assigned player because it seemed like all the good ones were taken. That would change as the next season approached.

Freshman Roomie was such a fan that she actually subscribed to a magazine with scouting reports and such about the team. (I don’t even do that now!) That summer, she noticed a new player, one Steven Wojociechowski, who would be a freshman at Duke in the fall. She suggested that he become my favorite. (Read: Freshman Roomie assigned me this random kid we’d never seen play to be my favorite.)

I shrugged and accepted my assigned player. I really wanted Greg Newton, but one of the other girls had already claimed him. Looking at this through the lens of 14 years, boy did I luck out! The picture in the scouting magazine did not do this boy justice. He was adorable and scrappy, and the first time I saw him play, I was truly, madly, deeply in love with him***.

Senior year, we again went to a game during the Thanksgiving holiday, and also during the students’ winter break. We stood outside after the games so we could hopefully meet the players and take pictures with them. At the first game, I met Wojo, and I still have the picture of the two of us together. (Maybe I’ll scan it over Thanksgiving and post it.) By the time we came back for the second game, I was all a-twitter about this complete stranger. I even had plans to ask him to the prom. (I am SO glad that we somehow missed him and I did not have the chance. This time, we met Coach K and I actually really love the picture that resulted from that meeting.)

So that is the story of how I went from clueless about Duke and basketball (up until the time I visited, I thought Duke was in New Jersey**** and that was probably why my dad was having so much trouble getting me interested) to a full-fledged Cameron Crazie. It was all by luck and peer pressure, and it is sometimes amazing to me that my life’s course was forever altered by one silly basketball game.

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*When I got home and told my dad I wanted to go to Duke, he was so mad. He’d been trying to get me interested in it for years, and one weekend with Freshman Roomie had me convinced.

**I cannot express, in print, how enthusiastic this girl was about CC. But I can tell you that she stole a paper Gatorade cup from under the Duke bench because she was convinced it was his, and built a shrine to it in her bedroom.

***I maybe still kinda am… The other night at the game, he was wearing a navy suit with a pink tie. OOOOH the new hottness! (Yes, I know that’s not spelled right. He’s so hott he needs an extra T!)

****This is especially comical if you know anything about the Duke stereotypes.

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