Extra Points: World Traveler – University of North Carolina Athletics

Carolina’s football team will play Saturday night in Winston-Salem against Wake Forest, with a 12:30 a.m. Sunday kickoff near Manchester, England. Kurt Greene logs into his ESPN Player account in his office on the north side of the city, plugs in his headphones, and lives and dies by the moment. On a shelf behind him are the home and away caps worn by the Tar Heel baseball team during the 1990 season in center field.

“Duke’s game was killer,” he said of Carolina’s 38-35 win in Durham on Oct. 15. “It didn’t start until 1 a.m. my time. By the time it finished, it was nearly dawn here. How could you do that? I’m not really a night person, I’m more of a morning person. You’re like, ‘Well, I might as well be awake first. series or the first season. Then you go to bed and look at your score and you really can’t sleep. Your mind is racing. Then you get up and sit on the computer.

“It was a great win, but the next morning was boring for me.”

Green has been an expert following the Tar Heels for more than 3 decades, removing several time zones, from front and back time zones. The former Tar Heel receiver (he started at the end of the 1988 season), who holds a BA and MA in political science from Carolina State and an MBA from Arizona State, has had at least 15 addresses since 1990, including one in China. , Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and several cities in England, as well as posts in New York, Arizona, Utah, and Nebraska in the United States.

In the early 1990s, before the Internet, he researched college football scores from the pages of English-language newspapers in China. He applauded every iteration of the World Wide Web, from greater bandwidth to faster computers. He gritted his teeth living in Italy, one of the few countries without any kind of ESPN access. In the early 2000s, he found Woody Durham’s erratic audio programs and YouTube highlights. The TuneIn app allows him to listen to Tar Heel Radio.

“The 3:30 kickoff is my favorite,” he said. “All Saturday with the family, in the yard or whatever, then sit down at 8:30 at night and watch football. I can watch an archived game, but it’s not as fun when I know the result. Social media today It’s impossible to know the score right away.”

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Green, 58, had two dreams as a kid: He wanted to play football for Carolina and he wanted to see the world.

“My heroes growing up were guys like Amos Lawrence, Lawrence Taylor, Kelvin Bryant, Ethan Horton, Rod Elkins, Scott Stancavage. “Going to Kenan Stadium was larger than life, and that turf and the back bell tower became a sanctuary.”

His father, John, was a high school coach in several cities in North Carolina, including Cameron, Jacksonville, and Salisbury, and Kurt settled in Lexington when he entered high school. While John coached Lexington, Kurt attended Pinecrest High in Southern Pines, where he played football, basketball and baseball, making all-conference and team MVP as a senior in football.

Green was a good high school player, but not a great one, and a knee injury during the baseball season further dimmed his chances of playing at a small school like the Tar Heels, or even the Southern Conference. So after high school, Green followed his second dream, spending 18 months in Italy on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“It was my first experience abroad and I learned Italian fluently,” he said. “Moreover, it improved my character and my confidence, and taught me how to overcome adversity with hard work, persistence and patience.”

While on a mission in Italy, Green enrolled at Carolina and decided to walk on either the football or baseball team. With football first on the calendar, he approached coach Dick Cram and invited him to preseason camp in 1985. He was a 21-year-old freshman playing defensive line.

“I’ve been away from sports and physical education for two years, and the first few days of training with other freshmen were really tough,” he said. “We trained three times a day. I barely survived. At the end of the first week, I decided to leave the team.”

He had doubts with his mother, but not with anyone else. And on Saturday afternoon, during his last rehearsal, he saw his father in the crowd.

“What was I going to tell him? Can I give up now?” Reflects green. “We met after training. He gave me positive encouragement and no pressure. In fact, I never thought of leaving the team because I only shared my feelings with my mother. From then on, I found the will. And the courage to stay, I never looked back. .”

The 1985-87 season brought a number of challenges, most notably a switch at wide receiver and a torn rotator cuff in his second year that set him back and affected his ability to be productive in the 1986 and ’87 seasons. Playing on the Green Scout team, picking up laundry bags from the locker room floor and carrying them to the pipes leading to the bathrooms, he took on many of the menial tasks that young players faced. Before the advent of wireless communication systems, he was tasked with managing his coach’s telephone lines.


“The wires were long and the players were walking all over the place. It took some skill to keep the wires from getting tangled,” Green said. “It put me at the heart of the action, but I often thought that I wasn’t what I had put all this hard work into.”


Green was 100 percent healthy in spring ball in 1988. Mc Brown‘ First time as head coach of the Tar Heels.


“I was immediately struck by Coach Brown’s positivity and optimism, and he made it clear that he would reevaluate everyone with a fresh start,” Green said.


Naturally, Brown liked what he saw in Green, and on the first day of practice in August, he informed the team that Green was on full scholarship. A month later, when the No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners came to Kenan Stadium, Green was a key contributor. He took a quick hit from the quarterback early in the game May is considered and gained 18 yards.


“There was pure college football scandal and drama on national television,” Green said. “Time stood still. The atmosphere was electric. The roar of the crowd was deafening. I was so happy. The adrenaline was unbelievable. I was on top of the world. In that moment, all the years of walking—Injuries, surgeries, coaching changes, The scholarship came together. Every other success I’ve had on the football field since then has been a bonus.”


Unfortunately for the Green, Brown and Tar Heels, a 28-0 loss to Oklahoma in the second game of the 1988 season was a harbinger of things to come. Carolina held VMI to 42 points to open the 1989 campaign with a 3-point win over Georgia Tech midway through the 1988 season. Everything else was a loss.


“Historically, it’s called 2-20, but we’ve never been 2-20 as a team,” Green said. “We were never 2-20 until the last game of the second year. We were 0-1, 0-2, 0-3. We always made it to the next game. With Coach Brown, we never lost or lost. Expression He” You’ve got to compete.’ I’ve repeated this to myself many times over the years. ‘You’ve got to compete’ is at the heart of so many worthwhile goals and what it takes to be successful in life.”


After the 1989 season, Green’s eligibility for football was exhausted, but he wasn’t done as an athlete. He walked on to the baseball team and was the starting center fielder in 1990, leading the team in RBIs and hitting .260 as the Tar Heels won the ACC regular season title and the ACC Tournament. After leaving Chapel Hill in 1990, Greene embarked on a world tour where she dreamed of having children. He has worked as a CEO and consultant for various firms in the call center and customer service industries, and today serves as vice president of Teleperformance, an international business process customer service outsourcing firm. He has six children and one grandchild and has seen only three Tar Heel football games in 30 years, including one in 1993 when the Tar Heels beat USC in Anaheim while living in Arizona.


“I have traveled the world and experienced many things. “I could live anywhere else and be really happy. I’ve seen beautiful places and amazing cultures. But my geographic anchor is Carolina football and Kenan Stadium. I don’t follow the NFL. After football season, I cancel my subscription to ESPN. is the football season I’m connected to.


“Every time I visit North Carolina, I go to Chapel Hill and see the stadium, but all of those trips have been in the off-season. I’m amazed at how the facilities have changed. Kenan Stadium has changed somewhat, but the exterior is the same size as the bell tower outside. It’s the most amazing. thing. It was when I was young, and it still is.”


Green hopes to recover from his slumber until dawn in England on Sunday morning, defeating the Devil Deacons and allowing him to play his most sacred pitching tradition of curling up on his bed in a blue blanket sent by Carolina. his sister who was in the US many years ago.


“I call it the ‘Blanket of Victory,'” he said. “My wife and children think I’m a bit nuts, but they accepted it.”





Chapel Hill writer Lee Pace is in his 33rd year covering the Carolina football program under the Extra Points banner. He is the author of “Football in the Woods” and a reviewer for the Tar Heel Sports Network. Follow and tweet him at @LeePaceTweet [email protected]

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