"Do you know what happened?"

It was Chris.

I could not read his voice.

I was at a volleyball tournament with Molly.

I'd watched the UNC-Baylor game in between her rotations.

Even though the BJCC's Wi-Fi is sketchy, I saw enough to know that we had a chance. I saw it in RJ Davis's face.

He was locked in.

It is March Madness, after all.

My screen froze just as it looked like the game was headed to overtime. And no matter how many times I hit refresh, I was locked out.

I didn't know that Brady Manek was ejected.

I could not see that Caleb Love fouled out.

So, I paced and waited for Molly to go in.

That was when Chris called and shouted for joy.

"Do you know?"

"Know what?"

"WE WON THE GAME!"

"WHAT?!"

I'm sure people wondered what was wrong with me.

Why was I so excited at a 15-U volleyball match?

Because the North Carolina Tar Heels, our son's team, beat Baylor, the defending national champions.

We were the underdogs.

But RJ Davis, the prolific scorer for that game, said that the Tar Heels didn't want to go home.

So.

They played Carolina basketball.

And won.

We play Friday night in Philly against UCLA.

This is UNC's 30th sweet 16 appearance.

Before Will headed to UNC, I heard the term bandied about, that he would be part of a blue blood program.

What did that mean?

Here is as good a definition as any: Blue bloods are generally aligned into two categories. Top tier and bottom tier. Top tier blue bloods are untouchable. These include Duke, UNC, Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA and Indiana. (Every year, however, Indiana’s inclusion in this list gets debated more heavily). Blue bloods have sustained high performance, consistently great teams and a long history of winning. You don’t become a blue blood overnight. It takes almost 50 years of continued success.

Requirements for being a Blue Blood (According to Sports Illustrated): A scoring system that combines regular-season conference titles, consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, Final Four appearances, and National Championships.

An expectation of excellence permeates the atmosphere at those schools at a consistent level that is exhilarating and exhausting.

Those players, their coaches, understand that their basketball tradition was cultivated by those who've gone before. And will be curated by those who come behind.

It is a humbling endeavor.

It is a massive undertaking.

It is no small thing.

May I level with you?

The very idea that our kid plays for North Carolina is ridiculous.

The idea that he should be a senior in high school blows my mind. Technically, his senior night was the first Duke-UNC match-up.

Instead of the high school sideline, he was a freshly minted Tar Heel.

Will's sweat equity gave him that opportunity.

Though he is a redshirt, he enjoys all the blessings and benefits of the team except the opportunity to take to the court during basketball games. His class, the 2022's, graduates on June 1.

Right now, though, he works out, travels, and goes to class with his teammates. He gets the shoes. And the clothes. And all the things.

But my favorite thing?

Actually, I have two.

His coaches and teammates.

No matter how many hours they're in the gym, the men on his team, like RJ Davis, Leaky Black, and Caleb Love, demand each other's best. Every day.

Will plays against Armando Bacot, the runner-up to the ACC player of the year, and Brady Manek.

He's watched Puff Johnson and Justin McCoy step into big shoes.

He witnessed Dontrez Styles drain a three on Saturday.

Will knows that D'Marco Dunn and Kerwin Walton, the biscuit boys and other athletes coming off the bench, stay game ready.

They stay ready because of their coaches.

Men who pour their lives into the team.

Men who understand Carolina basketball. And its worth.

Men who played there and in the NBA. Some whose names hang on banners in the rafters of the Smith Center. Men who teach their recruits to dig into the excruciating, humbling work of becoming superior athletes. And all that it requires.

Men who understand that excellence won't maintain herself. She must be pursued.

Men who embody the tradition of Carolina basketball.

A place where legends lead the boys to become men.

I don't know how the UCLA-UNC game will go.

But I do know we wouldn't miss it for the world.

It's March, after all.

And it's madness.

Amie Beth Shaver is a speaker, writer, and media commentator. Her column appears every Wednesday in 1819 News. Shaver served on the Alabama GOP State Executive Committee, was a candidate for State House 43 and spokeswoman for Allied Women. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected].