Pair of sailors on USS Carl Vinson will have rooting interest
Posted November 10, 2011
Updated November 11, 2011
San Diego — When the University of North Carolina Tar Heels take on Michigan State Friday in the Carrier Classic on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson, there will be two sailors in attendance with clear allegiances.
Peter Locklear, from Pembroke, N.C., and Charles Hobson, from Wilmington, N.C., both serve on the USS Carl Vinson, and neither thought they would see the day when as basketball game would be played there.
"I didn't believe it at first, I thought it was a joke," said Locklear.
"It's hard to believe anything like this could ever happen," said Hobson. "It was one of those, ‘I will believe it when I see it’ and here it is."
A court on an aircraft carrier, in a game featuring the favorite team of the North Carolina sailors, the Tar Heels, is in fact happening.
"I grew up watching Antwan Jamison and Vince Carter and Michael Jordan,” said Hobson. “I've never even been to a game, so to go to my first Tar Heel game on the ship I work on is a great experience."
The players from each team got to visit the USS Carl Vinson Wednesday, but Thursday was their first chance to test it out from a basketball viewpoint.
“My first thought was ‘Wow,’ said UNC guard Kendall Marshall. “I went to go take a jump shot and all you see is sky behind you. You’re used to seeing a student section or fans.”
UNC holds Carrier shoot around
The sailors who serve on the ship had a chance to be on leave while it was docked for the game but most opted to stay for the historic game. They know they will have some work to do to make it up to family members.
"I bought 10 t-shirts last night,” said Locklear. “I am hoping there is some kind of signature session, I am going to send it to my brothers, my uncles and my dad."
For the sailors that did stay behind to take in the game, it will be an unprecedented experience. For the players and coaches involved, they will be providing that, but taking away a greater lesson.
“We provide entertainment,” said UNC head coach Roy Williams. “Those men and women in the military are sacrificing. We’re not sacrificing.”