Freddie, I would never deny that being a cheerleader is good duty, especially if you like to see some high-level sports from the field (or court) of play.
I was a cheerleader my junior ('71-'72) and senior ('72-'73) years and got to make some good trips. There was usually a limit on the number of cheerleaders who traveled (just as there is a limit on the number of football players on the road squad) either because of what the school budgeted for travel or, in the case of NCAA basketball tournament games, how much the NCAA budgeted for travel and its rules, which gave the same number of cheerleader and pep band slots to every team. So we had to swap around the road trips. My first two years at Chapel Hill I sang in the choir at University Presbyterian Church, but I had to quit my last two years because I had no voice on Sunday mornings.
I went to regular-season football games at Notre Dame and Illinois as a junior as well as, over my two years, at all the ACC schools at the time -- Clemson, Duke, N.C. State, Wake Forest, Virginia and Maryland. I went to the 1972 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., where we lost to Georgia, and to the 1973 Sun Bowl in El Paso, where we beat Texas Tech. At that game I was on the elevator in our hotel when the coach, Bill Dooley, got on and recognized me as a cheerleader. He gave me the keys to the courtesy car he was loaned by the bowl committee and said to be sure the cheerleaders had a good time on the trip. So we went to Mexico, which of course was right over the bridge.
Most ACC schools did not allow visiting ACC cheerleaders for basketball games because there just wasn't that much room on the floor and there was a fear of violence in those tight quarters. So I never got to see a game in Cameron at Duke, which would have been fun, but I did get to go to a game at State. But being a cheerleader meant I got into all the games in Chapel Hill without standing in line for hours for tickets, which made me the envy of everybody on my dorm floor. Carolina played in Carmichael Auditorium then, which had only 8,800 seats. Cheering also meant I went to a lot of neutral court games at Greensboro and Charlotte -- especially over the Christmas break before the conference season began -- and I went to the 1971 basketball season-opener at Pittsburgh.
I did not go to either of the ACC Tournaments my two years as a cheerleader because I figured we'd be going somewhere more special than Greensboro the next weekend and I didn't want to use up one of my trips too early (I was more interested in seeing new places than the games sometimes). To this day I have never seen an ACC Tournament game in person, either as a cheerleader or a sports writer. Nor have I ever been inside the door of the Dean Dome.
Back then the NCAA Tournament was much smaller and only the ACC champion got to go. Because UNC won the 1972 ACC Tournament, I went to West Virginia University for the East Regional the next weekend where we beat South Carolina, then coached by former UNC coach Frank McGuire, and then to Los Angeles for the Final Four. We lost to Florida State in the semis but stayed to play a third-place game, which no longer is done, against Louisville, which we won. UCLA won that tournament with Bill Walton at center and John Wooden as coach. We spent the off-day between games at Disneyland, which was better than being in journalism law. We stayed in the Ambassador Hotel, where Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. The hotel has since been demolished.
My senior year Carolina I went to the NIT, which then was a bigger deal and was played entirely in Madison Square Garden. Over a two-week period I flew up and back to New York several times for games. We lost to Notre Dame in the semis and beat Alabama in the third-place game. On one of those trips we went to see "Jesus Christ Superstar" when it was still a Broadway show.
There were a lot of long bus rides among those road trips, especially to away ACC football games. Even though we'd get home in the wee hours of Sunday morning, nobody had to get up for class. The worst bus ride was to Morgantown, W.Va., and back just because it took so many tiny mountain roads to get there. They may have been improved since then. But the Notre Dame football trip was a charter plane ride and it took only an hour or two to get there and back with no changes at connecting airports. The Final Four trip to LA was also a charter, a United DC-8, and it was the only time we ever were on the same plane or bus as the team. That plane was big enough for the players, us, the band, all the school officials and some fans. Going to LA I remember looking down on Charlotte and seeing the first Charlotte Coliseum, which used to be considered a big basketball arena, and thinking its round domed roof looked like a silver thumbtack stuck in the ground. We flew out of LA on an 80-degree morning for the return trip and landed at RDU in the snow.
HHS Class of 1969