Friday, May 23, 2008

Raleigh, my memory lane

There is something about going to Raleigh, N.C. that makes me think of my childhood.

Living in Texas, you learn one thing particularly quick about sports and that it is football that rules the reign. It is the only sport that needs to be played by the human race. That's what they'd have you believe at least.

Not at the Davis household. And that's why I have such a strong fondness of Raleigh.

One of my best friends, Shawn Davis, was born there. His family has roots in the state and his father, Chuck, was the biggest NC State basketball fan that I knew. He was the only fan I knew of the program, growing up in Dallas, Texas.

The Davis family lived down the street from us on Steppington, a perfect slice of American suburbia. Every Saturday, I'd go with Shawn and his father to the neighbor blacktop. Shawn and I would generally be regulated to last pick amongst the 30, 40 and 50-year weekend warriors. We were so much better than that though.

I don't remember the games. I don't remember the guys we played with. I don't remember how good they were. I don't remember how long we played. I don't remember the particulars. Those things don't matter to me.

Chuck didn't teach me the game. In fact, he was quite intimidating. His North Carolina accent was as distinctive as the sweet vinegar-based barbecue you can find through the Carolinas. Hearing his accent usually came through in his barks to us about how to play the game correctly.

Chuck grew up with Jim Valvano and the NC State Wolfpack. The National Championship Wolfpack of 1983 to be exact.

But what he taught me was the passion that comes with it. Chuck's passion for all things NC State infused my passion and desire to learn more about the ACC. To learn more about the Wolf Pack, North Carolina, Duke and every other team in the conference.

Our games on the neighborhood weren't great. They were excepted to be great. They were fun as hell though. Passionate games, just like the way Jimmy V wanted the games to be played – with passion.

Chuck died one surprising day in 1994. It was one of the saddest days of my life. My best friend lost his father before he could graduate high school.

It doesn't surprise me know that I'm so passionate about the beautiful game. A lot of it can be traced to my days as a young middle school kid in the Lone Star State with a Wolfpack fan on a neighborhood blacktop.

Thanks for the passion Chuck. I'll enjoy Raleigh for you this weekend. Being in Reynolds Coliseum reminds me of your sweet family. It always will.

1 comment:

Jody said...

Those were fun times on Steppington St. in gold 'ole G.P. Jean, Chuck, Shaun, and memories weren't they....