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UNC alumni remember Roy Williams for more than just national championships

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DTH Archive. Head men's basketball Coach Roy Williams talks to his team at halftime of an 87-71 final four victory over Michigan State University, April 2, 2005. The team would go on to top Illinois 75-70 to win UNC's 4th National Championship.

While touring UNC to decide whether it was a right fit for him, Jordan Lawrence, class of 2010, vividly remembers seeing Carolina Blue paint remains on the streets after men's basketball head coach Roy Williams’ first NCAA Championship win in 2005. 

To feel the buzz of Chapel Hill was electric for Lawrence, and Williams’ win was factored into his decision to attend the University, along with noting the journalism school as one of the best in the country. 

“My mother went to UNC as well, and we watched the (2005) game with her and the house and freaked out because I was raised on Carolina basketball,” Lawrence said. “So to go there and buy my championship shirt, get my championship hat that I still have and wear from that year was definitely the final page of writing me into that book of being a UNC fan for life.” 

Through numerous NCAA Tournament runs, Williams has shown why UNC is often noted as the University of National Champions — but Williams championship run in 2009 was particularly special to many alumni. 

Tony Coggins, class of '09, was a 17-year-old senior in high school when UNC won the national championship in 2005. He thought once he got to the University that it would be a long time before another championship, due to the team losing a lot of talent.

He was later shocked by Williams’ recruits who went on to win another in 2009. 

“That first year though, it really felt like we were going to be in a rebuilding year because I think we've lost our top seven scorers,” Coggins said. “Me and my friend were lucky enough to get tickets to that first game, and I just remember being really close ... But little did we know that Tyler Hansbrough was going to turn into Psycho T, so I was very spoiled during the four years.”

Coggins lived in Connor Residence Hall 202 all four years because he loved being on campus. He recalled spotting Williams jogging on campus, which became a tradition. 

“He would jog right down the line of that cemetery and circle back up towards Boshamer Stadium back towards South Campus," he said.

Christina Reynolds, class of '97, worked as the director of media affairs in the Obama White House. When she heard the team would possibly come to the White House, she knew she had to go. 

That year was when former President Barack Obama picked UNC to win the national championship, and Reggie Love, former Duke basketball and football player, was his body man at the time. Obama and Reynolds gave Love some grief at the time because both were UNC fans. 

"I remember after the president left and they’d taken all their pictures and gave him the jersey, I said, ‘Well, hold on, we got to get a picture for the alumni magazine,’” Reynolds said. “As I walk up, I said, 'I just want to thank you all for winning the national championship and also allowing us to give Reggie grief,' and Roy kind of chuckled — and I thought well, this is the pinnacle of my White House career.” 

Williams left a lasting impression on the UNC community, and students could see how much he loved not only basketball, but also his players. 

Haley Kirse was a sophomore when Williams won his last national championship, and she said that will be the most memorable day of her life. 

“I never met him personally, but I wish I had,” Kirse said. “I feel like it’s a running joke where people call him their second grandpa because he’s just a nice man, but I don't think I’ve ever seen another coach love his players more than him. And that’s why I think it was so special when they won in 2017 — because they were a family.”

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