Get in The Game: Your Guide to Fall Sports in Durham
Your guide to fall sports fandom in Durham, NC. Enjoy fall sporting events, athletic apparel, and collegiate competition.
Posted By Ashley Strahm on Sep 19, 2018
Home to beloved championship teams like the Durham Bulls Baseball Club, the Duke University Blue Devils, the North Carolina Central University Eagles, and the Tobacco Road Football Club, Durham offers plenty of opportunities to take in upcoming sports events... just remember to take these insider tips with you.
Fall Sports Fandom
The Blue Devils. The Eagles. Whether it's horns or wings you're representing, you need to come correct with your school spirit!
This season, Duke will take on two college football playoff contenders on the gridiron: Alabama and Notre Dame (the latter opponent at home), and will play their Durham day game vs. Pitt on October 5. North Carolina Central University will play rival NC A&T on November 23 this season, just a couple of weeks after hosting an incredible homecoming celebration that will undoubtedly draw folks from all over the country. Both universities have schedules full of soccer, volleyball and football in the coming weeks, and that’s all before — you guessed it — basketball begins in November.
The athletes are worth being excited about, but so is the pedigree of our collegiate sports world leadership. This past March, North Carolina Central University Athletic Director Dr. Ingrid Wicker McCree was named the Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year after coaching both volleyball and softball at NCCU, becoming the first coach in school history to win conference titles in multiple sports.
Then, there's Coach David Cutcliffe, who is taking the Duke University football program to new heights. Experience both present day magic and Blue Devil history before football games at Wallace Wade stadium; the Duke Basketball Museum & Sports Hall of Fame is close enough to relive some of the university's biggest moments.
Allow yourself to bask in the aura of glory. After all, you're a fan — what would any game be like without you?
Pregame Like a Champion
If you're not feeling the vibes, you're not ready. Trust North Carolina Central University Athletic Director Dr. Ingrid Wicker McCree — she knows.
"There is nothing better than an HBCU sporting event, complete with high energy marching bands, fan engagement, excitement, and an overall atmosphere that rivals other non-HBCU institutions," Dr. McCree states. "Whether it is volleyball or football, our fall sporting events provide an opportunity for fans to be up close to the action without compromising the efforts from our teams. Playing in a smaller venue provides our student-athletes with the feel of 'being a part of the fan experience and personal engagement'."
We get it — you're not actually suiting up to compete against an opponent on the field — but our job is to make sure you feel like you are. You don't need a helmet and pads, but you do need adequate preparation for a day jam-packed full of festivities.
Stop at Bulldega for some last minute sunscreen for the hours you'll spend out in the sunny stands and bleachers cheering on your side. Make sure you're hydrated with beverages from stadium vendors or load up on adult beverages beforehand at The Northern Spy to share with family and friends. Snacks more your thing? You'll need sustenance if you're going to be dancing during the halftime show and screaming for your favorite players. Make sure you nibble on small bites at places around campus like Beyu Blue or Nosh, or load up on all of the wings and game-time eats you can take in at Heavenly Buffaloes, Bull McCabes, Pie Pushers, or Chicken Bee.
Go ahead, celebrate. Who says that Gatorade bath isn't also for you?
Get Your Swag On
Show off your team colors with pride! For Duke Blue Devils apparel and accessories, head to the Duck Shop in Durham’s Ninth Street Shopping district or the Duke University Store on Duke’s campus. NCCU Eagles gear can be purchased at the NCCU bookstore on campus.
Pack the house with your team colors on and your posse in tow at Durham sports bars, restaurants, and breweries where the locals hang out. Head to the Ninth Street or Brightleaf districts to watch Duke games at locations like Dain’s Place, Skewers or Devine’s, or head downtown to visit places like Tobacco Road Sports Café and Fullsteam Brewery. Don’t worry if you favor a local rival team; you’ll probably still find friends in enemy territory.
Get Those Insider Tips
"The Eagle fan base is amazing. Eagles will travel around the world to support our athletic contests, Dr. McCree says. "With more than 300 student-athletes at the university and over 70 staff members, each is committed to 'excellence without excuse' when it comes to being a true Eagle. We have a saying that 'the Eagle is no common, ordinary barnyard fowl' which resonates throughout our student, employee, and alumni base."
Think you can just show up at NC Central and make some sort of bird sign on a poster to show your school spirit? Wrong. Better brush up on your Eagles' wings. Think you can slap on some periwinkle and pass it off as Duke blue in the stands? We can't guarantee you won't be stuck in the shade for that one. For more practical tips on how to make your game day experience one to remember (for all the right reasons), check out these cheat sheets from NCCU and Duke.
Okay, don't worry — it's not that serious. (Maybe it is.) Don't spend too much time speculating ... sometimes, you just have to be there. Go ahead: get in the game!
For all of the sporting events happening in Durham this season, remember to to check out our sporting events calendar.
Featured image by Ben McKeown for Duke Athletics