by Charly Mann
In December of 1956 when UNC started their run for the National Championship, and the most incredible season in college basketball history, I was nearing my seventh birthday. The population of Chapel Hill was less than 8,000, and it seemed that every face in town was a familiar one. Woollen Gym, where the Tarheels played their games, held about 5,000 people, and I recall that almost anyone in town who wanted tickets to the games got them. Woollen Gym was twenty years old in 1957, and most of the bleachers were on rollers and could be collapsed and pushed away from the court when there wasn't a game. What made the season that year memorable to me at first, was that the first and last home games of the season were going to be against South Carolina teams. My Dad, then a math professor at UNC, was from South Carolina, and we visited relatives there often, so this was special to me. The first home game was against Furman in early December, and the last was against South Carolina – then in the ACC – in late February. During games I would spend much of time with a group of my friends walking up and down the bleacher stairs, and sitting from time to time in various empty seats. I cannot recall spending much time watching the games. UNC played eight home games that season, and won them all.
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What is it that binds us to this place as to no other? It is not the well or the bell or the stone walls. or the crisp October nights. No, our love for this place is based upon the fact that it is as it was meant to be, The University of the People.