Today is my dad, David Doster’s 60th birthday. I went home to Morganton to enjoy his birthday festivities this past weekend. They included a day trip to Blowing Rock, tons of great food and of course watching North Carolina edge Oregon in a 77-76, nail-biter Saturday, April 1. The win over the Ducks put UNC in tonight’s NCAA men’s basketball national championship game against Gonzaga. So, as you can imagine, I’d love nothing more than for our beloved Tar Heels to emerge victorious on his birthday.
Let’s go back about 22 years when I was starting to move out of the Power Ranger phase and into sports. My dad never pushed UNC or Carolina Blue or a hatred for Duke on me, but it didn’t take much or long for me to develop a love for the Tar Heels and enmity for the Blue Devils. You could say it was in my blood. I’m the fifth-generation of Dosters to graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Words like destiny and fate get on my nerves. Instead, I believe I was made to walk the hallowed halls of the southern part of Heaven, stroll on the uneven bricks beside the stone walls throughout the most beautiful college campus in the world, take in Chapel Hill’s crisp October nights, enjoy the memories of Dogwoods blooming and lazy days in the Quad, make lifelong friends in the Pit, hit up Sutton’s with my boys and cheer on those Tar Heel warriors at Kenan Stadium and the Smith Center.
Carolina isn’t just a place or a school. It’s an experience you cherish forever. I was born into it, bred into it, and I’ll die in it. It’s something that I’ll carry from the womb to the tomb. Other than God, the one who deserves the most credit for that is my dad. Heck, I knew Carolina fight songs, stats and stories about Tar Heel greats Dean Smith, Bobby Jones, Walter Davis, Phil Ford and Michael Jordan before I could read or count. I call that great parenting by my dad. He certainly had his priorities in the correct order.
I’ve always wanted to be like my dad, because he’s the best man I know. My earliest memories of him are waking up to find him reading his Bible, praying and drinking a cup of coffee early in the morning, always making time for my mom, sister, brother and I even after he had a long day at work and of course rooting for the Tar Heels.
So, obviously, if I was going to be like him I needed to do those things. My dad would put me to bed at halftime of Carolina games when I was little if the Heels played on school nights. I can remember sneaking out of my room and trying to hide behind the couch to catch the second half. I thought I was so clever, but after a couple of minutes he’d “find me” and send me back to bed.
In 1995 our family lived in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Tar Heels were set to play the Razorbacks in the Final Four. Several of my dad’s friends were big Arkansas fans. The night before the game those guys went Hog wild and decorated the outside of our house in red and white Razorback garb. I was only seven years old, but I was irate. I’m pretty sure a picture of our house made it in the local newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. UNC lost, which made it even worse.
Two years later I was spending the night at my friend Jimmy Lepine’s house. North Carolina was playing the California Golden Bears in the Sweet 16. His dad made us go to bed at halftime much to my frustration. I went to my last resort – tears … crocodile tears. Between sobs I told Mr. Lepine that my dad would let me stay up to watch the rest of the game. He took pity on me, and I happily cheered the Heels on to a 63-57 victory.
My family moved to Maryland later that year, and my dad took me to my first North Carolina basketball game at historic Cole Fieldhouse. He scalped some overpriced tickets, so we could enjoy the game together. The only thing we enjoyed was father-son time, which was priceless and something I’ll always be thankful for. Unfortunately, our Heels, who were led by Antawn Jamison and Vince Carter, ranked No. 1 and 17-0, fell to the Terrapins, as my dad and I got cussed out by belligerently drunk Maryland fans. I forgave them, but I haven’t forgotten them.
In 2000, he and one of his closest friends Rob Mann took me to my first Carolina-Duke game. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I sat between Julius Peppers and Joseph Forte before the game. Also, I’m pretty sure I told Peppers he had big feet, which I’m sure was awkward for him. The Blue Devils won in overtime. However, North Carolina had the last laugh that season by advancing to the Final Four, while Duke watched from home after making an early exit from the NCAA Tournament.
My dad, younger brother Samuel and I proceeded to endure the Matt Doherty years before Roy Williams came home to Chapel Hill, and like a savior, restored our beloved Tar Heels to national prominence. The three of us jumped up and down, fist-bumped and shouted as we nearly brought down our house when North Carolina won the national championship in 2005 and 2009.
About a week and a half after UNC defeated Michigan State to win the title in 2009 I found out my application to the college of my dreams was accepted. I cried tears of joy, and quickly called my dad. It was one of the coolest moments we have shared together. I graduated with my two-year associate degree from Western Piedmont Community College later that spring, then enrolled into summer school at Carolina. I was officially a Tar Heel.
On May 8, 2011, I took another step in my father’s footsteps and graduated from UNC, making me part of the Carolina Family for life. So, for me, being a Tar Heel is more than something I decided to be off some whim. No, it’s a lifelong experience. It’s in my DNA, and it’s something I’ve done. It’s who I am, and for that, I have to thank my dad. I hope you have a happy birthday, Dad! Go Heels! Now, let’s go win a national championship.