We explain the meaning of Tar Heels and why North Carolina is nicknamed the Tar Heels ahead of Duke vs. UNC in the Final Four later today.
The NCAA Tournament’s Final Four is almost here, and there are some intriguing matchups. Duke and North Carolina will meet for the first time in NCAA history in what will be Coach K’s final farewell before retiring.
There is a lot of history between the two programs, but fans are wondering what a Tar Heel is and how it relates to UNC ahead of the game.
Meaning Of Tar Heels
Tar Heel is the nickname of the University of North Carolina’s teams, students, and fans, as well as the state as a whole. It is frequently referred to as the Tar Heel State.
But what exactly does Tar Heel mean? Well, the term is deeply ingrained in North Carolina’s early history, when the state was a leading producer of naval supplies.
Tar was a major product of North Carolina during the Colonial period. It was created by workers who walked through the forest and accumulated tar on their shoes or feet. Originally, calling someone a “rosin heel” or “tar heel” implied that they worked in a lowly trade and was an insult.
Why Is The University Of North Carolina Known As Tar Heel?
After the Civil War, however, the term “tar heel” was flipped and used as an epithet and something more positive. North Carolinians wore the term as a badge of honor and something to be proud of.
It eventually grew in popularity to the point where North Carolina was dubbed the “Tar Heel State.” When UNC began competing in intercollegiate sports in the 1880s, it needed a nickname. From the start, it was clear that “Tar Heels” was the most appropriate and representative nickname, embodying the spirit and heritage of the region.
That is what North Carolina has been known as since then.
North Carolina’s Way To The Fourth Place
The greatest rivalry in college sports is Duke vs. North Carolina. North Carolina is led by Hubert Davis, who succeeded Roy Williams, and Duke is led by the legendary Mike Krzyzewski.
UNC entered the tournament as a No. 8 seed, but they had just beaten Duke in Coach K’s final home game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. They have defeated No. 1 Baylor, No. 4 UCLA, and No. 15 St Peter’s in this year’s tournament.