Fans travel to support the Pack – Washington Daily News

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Fans travel to support the Pack

Published 2:41 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2024

By STEVE BARNES & ELLEN BRABO
Washington Daily News

In a significant show of alumni spirit, Beaufort County residents Paige Allen Harris and Stuart O’Neal were among the North Carolina State basketball fans who attended the NCAA Final Four men’s game at the University of Phoenix Stadium, where the Pack faced Purdue University.

Harris, a 1988 NC State graduate, and O’Neal, class of 2000, witnessed the Wolfpack challenge the Boilermakers in a high-stakes basketball showdown. The event marked a special occasion for both, as they supported their alma mater in a bid for college men’s basketball supremacy.

“It was our first trip to the Final Four in 41 years,” said O’Neal. “I wanted to be there to support our team. There was a lot of red in the building. I was proud to be a member of the Wolfpack.”

The game was not just a sporting event for Harris, who was joined by her husband, a 1994 NC State graduate, and their son, who graduated in 2021. Her family’s strong ties to the university were on full display, showcasing a tradition of Wolfpack loyalty that spans decades.

Harris’s dedication to NC State extends beyond her academic achievements. She is the past president of the NC State Alumni Association Board of Directors, a current member of the NC State Foundation Board and Vice Chair of the Wolfpack Women in Philanthropy.

“We bleed red,” emphasized Harris, underscoring the pervasive sense of pride and belonging among NC State’s alumni and supporters.

While O’Neal and Harris were in the desert, Washington residents Jerry and Gail Cornwell were driving through snow in the West Virginia mountains on the way to Cleveland to support the Wolfpack Women in their Final Four game against top-seeded, undefeated and eventual champion South Carolina.

The Cornwell’s are season ticket holders and made it to all the home games in Reynolds Coliseum plus trips to the UNC and Duke away contests. They were in Greensboro for the ACC Tournament and attended both games the Wolfpack hosted in the early rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

“We couldn’t make it to Portland for the regional, so we said we would go if they made it to Cleveland,” Jerry said. “We applied for our tickets thru the Wolfpack Club and hit the road Thursday night.”

They arrived 12 hours later to support their team in its second-ever Final Four and the first since 1998.

“It was really cool to be in a packed arena with people from all over,” Jerry said. “We saw coaches from a lot of different schools wearing their team shirts and it was well worth the effort to get there. We’ll do it again next year or whenever they make it back.”

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