How I ended up a Tarheel

Written by Bill Wood

I always thought I would go to the University of Texas and play football. I was sorely disappointed when the offer just “kept not coming”. I had offers from some smaller schools and a lot of interest from Duke, who ended up telling me that maybe a year of two in junior college would be better for me to begin with. Then came New Mexico Military Institute. They had me out for a visit and it seemed pretty exciting! I just turned 18 on August 1st and was there for QB camp August 15th or so. I had no idea about the seriousness of the military aspect until I began to settle in there. We had a really good team. Most of the top drawer athletes were there on one year deals from the three service academies. I played quarterback there just a few years after Roger Staubach, just for example. We came within one very close loss to making it to the Junior Rose Bowl. I had a good year, more running than passing but still more passing than high school. I actually played all three sports that first year, although I was so late getting to basketball, I practiced a lot more than I played. In baseball, I was the third baseman and we were a winning team.

      Suprising myself, I decided to go back for a second year. I think I realized that it was really good for me, even though I felt bad about not going to a “regular” university like most of my high school friends. My second year of football was tough…knee injuries and high ankle sprain. When I went for my visit to Duke I was still limping around. I loved that area so much I reached out to the University of North Carolina (just 8 miles away) and was encouraged to come “walk on”. I did. I loved it but knee injuries did me in…and cut me out of playing baseball. I did have a last fling by playing rugby the spring of my senior year and had a blast. Chapel Hill is a magical place. Some lifelong friendships were made there and a group of us has stayed in pretty close touch. Since all of our children were mostly grown, we have regularly gone on one or two hunting or fishing trips almost every year. I almost stayed there for law school but came back to Texas where all of my family was. Early in my career I thought about trying to re-transplant myself there but moving and starting a legal career all over just became harder and harder. Amazingly, my son and his wife and little girls live in Chapel Hill now. So, I “”sort” made it back there. We visit often and love going there. I think “something in the water” made me love the trees in Carolina, and that’s how I became a Tarheel.

2 thoughts on “How I ended up a Tarheel

  1. What's in the Water February 10, 2021 / 12:01 am

    Written by Bob Ittner:

    Bill, being a couple of years older than you I didn’t realize what an athletic Stallion you were-starting 3 years at QB, baseball championships in the summer, and basketball stardom. Congratulations on your career at NMMI and continuing to UNC and then a successful career as a trial lawyer! Being able to play all 3 sports in Junior College is amazing.

    Our youngest daughter Catherine is a graduate of UNC. She could have followed her 3 siblings to UT but that would have been too easy! She was a Phi Beta Kappa (her Mom’s genes)-did her parents proud and very resourceful. She worked at a pizza place on Franklin as a Senior and walked a doctors dog for $250/week. We loved visiting on Parents Weekend. 7 girls lived two years together in a house and garage apt on Kenan St and still are great friends!

    A quick story: we joined her for a scholarship interview at USC where she thought she wanted to go to study business. One of my California friends said if you wanted to be in business in So Cal USC was the place to go. We flew into LAX, have to take a bus to rent a car and then drive to the Campus which is not in the nicest part of town. She went to a sorority party and heard someone say that USC stands for the University for Spoiled Children-I hope not to offend. After her interviews we drove to Santa Monica and thought we were allowing enough time to get back to the rental car place. This is before WAZE-our only path back was the Pacific Coast Highway which was jammed at 5. We also couldn’t remember exactly how to get back to the rental car place. So white knuckle time. We finally found the place but then you have to wait for the shuttle. Thankfully we made the flight barely and returned to Houston about 12 AM.

    The next day at noon my wife and Catherine fly to Raleigh, walk across the road to the rental car place, and ride 20 or 30 miles through the trees to the beautiful UNC campus and the rest is history

    Also: Catherine reminded me that we also had luggage trouble (bags got temporarily lost) and we had to wait ages to pick up the rental car at LAX.

  2. John McElligott February 10, 2021 / 7:56 am

    Bill and Bob
    Loved NC and the famous Golden Triangle. UNC, NCS and Duke. Lots of beautiful girls except for Duke. But the hospital nursing staff made up the difference. NCS Engineering Students designed a Veterans Garden for us Veterans of Vietnam. So I guess they smarter than they looked. Bill remember that yell “if you can’t Go to college go to State”. Bill the last fight of my life (all most the last day of life) was against a giant UNC fan at the Duke stadium vs UNC. Now Duke Football Game “funnnn” tubs of ice and water “vodka” with mixer floating. Last time I lost my car. Found it on Sunday right where I always parked. Quit drinking vodka!!

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