Wine and cheese crowd? Not this North Carolina fan

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Greg Cauley is what you’d call a super fan. He’s a longtime North Carolina backer who isn’t shy about his love for the Heels.

Or for doing anything and everything to watch every game they play.

The GQ feature of Cauley is both a revealing profile of a guy whose devotion is admirable, but also kind of nuts. He’s been to every home UNC basketball game since 1985. He’s been to every home football game since ’74. He’s gone on the road (30 states), recorded every game on TV since ’82 and has a banner signed by every Tar Heel who’s played since 1975. (That’s not crazy; that’s just awesome.)

Cauley, 58, is a bank manager who spends a chunk of change to do all of this, too. Tickets, food, gas amounts to about $5,000 a year, not including postseason bowl games and NCAA tournament games.

And he’s a good fan, too. He’s energetic at games and doesn’t understand people who attend sporting events but don’t pay attention (me either).

So where did all this devotion come from? An excerpt:

It started when he was a kid. His parents and sisters were all Carolina fans, they’d watch every game together on television. Cauley wanted to go to the local high schools’ basketball games but his parents wouldn’t take him. Not until he was 10, when his dad, Jim, began teaching carpentry at South Lenoir High School. Dad took him to a game. Big game. Packed gym. In childlike wonder, Cauley lost himself, thinking the simplest thought over and over: Dude, it’s a basketball game. His dad’s cheers, the game, the electricity crackling through the crowd—like so many kids, it got Cauley high.

In a few years he made the freshman team but soon realized he was terrible, so to stay around the game he kept stats. While Cauley was in high school his father literally built their house with his own two hands. Cauley and his two sisters helped. It took a long time. To this day, the house still stands strong. For college, Cauley enrolled at the UNC-Chapel Hill, where he attended every game possible. When he graduated in 1976 he got into banking. He worked in Clinton, N.C. for a few years, then took a job back home in Kinston. He only grew more obsessed with Carolina sports. All of them. He went to baseball games, lacrosse games, soccer games. “If they had a tiddlywinks team,” he says, “I’d go watch that, too.”

Maybe “nuts” is too strong a term for Cauley. The guy knows what he likes (North Carolina athletics) and sticks with it. I knew a girl in college who went to every Backstreet Boys concert in a 20-state area for two years. That’s crazy (and expensive).

This just seems like the kind of fan every program would want.

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