Quilt of Champions

Looking for some warmth in the winter months? This quilt has you covered. Get it? Covered? Because it’s a quilt.

The Story Behind the Object

Sometime in the aftermath of the 2009 National Championship, I cleaned out my closet. And by aftermath I mean within the following two or three years. And by closet I mean t-shirt drawer. And by cleaned it out I mean really cleaned it out. I had t-shirts from high school cross country meets, souvenir shirts from various trips I had taken, and souvenir shirts from various trips other people had taken and brought back for me - not to mention regular everyday wear t-shirts.

The majority of the shirts were donated to goodwill or tossed into the garbage, either because they had no sentimental value or because they’d reached the end of their useful life. But I had a collection of Tar Heel tees that I couldn’t bring myself to part with. I mentioned this in passing to my mother, who must have mentioned it in passing to her sister, and eventually my aunt (my mother’s sister, in case you don’t understand how family trees work) volunteered to turn them into a quilt for me.

So I mailed them from North Carolina to my aunt in Texas and a little while later she mailed back this amazing t-shirt quilt. It was, apparently, not an easy task. She didn’t say she would never make me another t-shirt quilt in her life, but she didn’t NOT say that either. I’m just kidding. She definitely said that.

Normally I have more of a story about the Collectible of the week, but today the description pretty much contains the story. Or stories.

Carolina Collectibles Description

There are 20 shirts in this quilt, so it was difficult to get a picture of it that contained all of the squares (it’s the size of a queen size bed). As a result, I had to take pictures of four tiles at a time. I’ll number the tiles as we go for easy reference.

The first four tiles are in the top left of the quilt.

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1. The shirt in the upper left quadrant of this section was probably my favorite shirt of all time. I must have acquired it just after the 1993 National Title. It features a flaming basketball going through a hoop (old school Miami Heat-style), says National Champs, and across the bottom it lists the (then) three National Championships credited to North Carolina - 1957, 1982, and 1993. Since then, as we all know, Carolina has laid claim to four more titles - 2005, 2009, 2017, and, of course, 1924.

2. The shirt in the upper right quadrant of this section was not overly memorable. Actually, the white background is from the back of some other shirt that had nothing on the back. Then the navy rectangle in the middle of that features a small Carolina and an even smaller Tar Heels. Sometimes you just need a classy looking t-shirt and this was mine.

3. The lower left quadrant features CH in an oval, with Chapel Hill, NC written underneath the oval. This shirt was printed at the height of the OBX car magnet craze. Those things were all the rage.

4. The lower right quadrant is the back of shirt 18. It’s a Final Four shirt from 2005, so the back of it lists the four teams the Heels defeated on “The Road to St. Louis.” I really don’t remember purchasing a Final Four shirt ever in my life, up until 2017, when I purchased a 2016 Final Four shirt on clearance in an attempt to exorcise those demons prior to the 2017 tourney run. But I got this one somewhere.

The next four tiles are the top right of the quilt.

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5. The upper left quadrant has a strutting Rameses with “PRIDE” written across the top. I got this in college, and I’m pretty sure it was free, but I don’t remember where it came from.

6. The upper right quadrant features alternate colors! It’s a navy shirt with “CAROLINA” written in Carolina blue (with white outline). This was my wife’s, so it’s not only alternate colors, but also an alternate owner. But, what’s hers is mine. At least if it says UNC on it somewhere.

7. The lower left quadrant contains the “Answer the Bell” Carolina Football shirt from the 2002 season. This was my freshman year in Chapel Hill, and I do recall that that team really answered the bell by winning three of its six road games. Of course, they lost six of their six home games, so maybe I should have shredded the shirt rather than enshrining it.

8. The lower right quadrant is the back of shirt 11. It makes more sense if you’ve seen the front of shirt 11, which says “Everybody Loves Raymond.” (Remember that show? Loved that show.) Anyway, the back lists every other player on the 2002-2003 team, from Rashad to Jawad to Damion (Grant) to Damien (Price). Some oldies but goodies in here. Byron Sanders. Phillip McLamb. Good times. Some guy was going door to door in Hinton James dorm selling these during a road basketball game. I want to say the game was at Georgia Tech, and I want to say we lost, but I can’t remember if those facts are correct or not.

The next four tiles are the middle row of the quilt. Throwing you off with the presentation here.

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9. The far left shirt was one of those free shirts given away at a football game during whatever season the “Turn it Blue” campaign launched. Probably 2003 or 2004. Likely the most blue thing that season was the mood of Carolina fans after a football game. Just being honest.

10. The second shirt from the left is the breast pocket of a shirt listing all the ways “You Know You’re a Tar Heel When…” The back of this shirt, which is more entertaining, is tile 17.

11. See tile eight. This is the front of that shirt. Love that guy. Though Robert Barone was probably even more lovable than ol' Ray.

12. The far right shirt is either the back of the shirt in tile three or tile 13. I acquired it right after Roy returned to Chapel Hill. Apparently, if the text on the shirt is to be believed, I paid $10 for it.

Back to four quadrants for the final two sections of the quilt. This is the bottom left.

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13. See tile 12. This may be the front of that shirt. Or this may be all the shirt said. Either way, “in ROY we trust” seems even more sacreligious than “Doherty’s Disciples,” so I’m totally shocked the Carolina basketball team didn’t lose on ten straight Sundays after this was printed. (Side note, was anyone surprised the Heels lost to Penn State in the second round on a Sunday in 2001? As soon as I saw the bracket and that the game would be on a Sunday, I literally penned in a loss and never looked back. Clemson. Virgina. Duke. Duke. Penn State. Five straight Sundays. Five straight losses. Unreal.)

14. The upper right quadrant is my “official” 2005 title celebration shirt. I may have two or three shirts commemorating each title, but I always have one that is the “I’ve looked at every design out there, and this is the one that I want to live forever in my drawer - or on a quilt - as 'the shirt' from that season."

15. The lower left quadrant...no idea. It looks like two shirts blended together into one, but it’s not. It had to have been my wife’s. Though it’s also possible that it’s from my middle school days. Either way, I have zero recollection of ever seeing it before it went onto the quilt.

16. The lower right quadrant is a 2005 Syracuse Regional Champions shirt. Not even a Final Four shirt. Just Regional Champions (there is a small Final Four logo at the bottom). I would never have paid money for this shirt, but I won it in some contest on campus. Something Ram’s Club or GAA related.

Last group of four tiles. Are you still reading? Bottom right corner of the quilt.

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17. The upper left quadrant is the back of the shirt in tile 10. I said the back of this shirt was more entertaining, but I just read all ten of the “you know you’re a Tar Heel” reasons and to be honest...not that funny.

18. The upper right quadrant is the front of tile four. It may be my second favorite shirt on this quilt. It just looks cool. Such fond memories of the Edward Jones Dome.

19. The lower left quadrant is from the breast pocket of a dress shirt. It says “Carolina” and has a ball going through a hoop (but no flames).

20. The lower right quadrant I am pretty sure is the back of the shirt in tile five. If memory serves, beneath this there was an ad for whatever establishment gave out the shirts. I feel like it was a pizza place. But I just can’t remember.

Carolina Collectibles Comparison: 1993 National Championship team

Much like the 1993 National Champs, the sum of this quilt is greater than its parts. Most of the shirts individually are not that amazing (some are great, some not so much), but pieced together, they tell the story of Carolina athletics, and my fandom, from approximately 1993 to 2005. There aren’t too many individual members of the 1993 squad who are remembered as super stars (though I did shave my head for like five years because of Eric Montross), but collectively, those guys hung a banner.

Carolina Collectibles Rating: 5 Stars

Unique. Functional. Awesome. This one checks all the boxes of a truly amazing Carolina Collectible.

@HeelsboroDave