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Feb08_Lucas

Feb08_Lucas

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Published by Kelly GIles
Chapel Hill sports publisher. Layout appeared in February '08 issue.
Chapel Hill sports publisher. Layout appeared in February '08 issue.

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Published by: Kelly GIles on Apr 20, 2009
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05/11/2014

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Sports journalist Adam Lucas admits he’s living the dream job of many loyal Tar Heel admirers.
by hannah taylor

• design by kelly giles •

photos by liz mundle

ucas’ job title, editor and publisher of Tar Heel Monthly and contributor to tarheelblue.com since 2001, is enough to make any Carolina fan raise an interested eyebrow. Then there are the perks of the job. Lucas travels to every home and away game for Carolina baseball, men’s basketball and football. He attends press conferences, flies to tournaments and hangs out at practices. For UNC-Chapel Hill students who would consider selling a limb to acquire basketball tickets, Lucas has it made. Even on a Saturday morning, when the Dean Dome is empty and no game is in sight, Lucas exudes Carolina spirit. With his short brown hair, khakis and a Carolina blue sweatshirt, Lucas settled down on a couch inside the Dean Dome to talk about how his lifelong passion for sports has turned into the ultimate career.

born and bred Since he was young, Lucas has loved watching and playing sports. “I went to almost every UNC game as a kid,” he said. “My dad would write me sick notes to get out of school on Fridays, and I would come and watch the Tar Heels.” Lucas had his own sports career, playing point guard in basketball recreation leagues through middle school and then second base on his high school baseball team. Like many young athletes, Lucas envisioned taking his skills to the professional level. “For a while I wanted to be a professional basketball player,” Lucas said. “But it turned out I wasn’t that good. Then I wanted to be a professional baseball player, but it turned out I wasn’t that good at it, either.” Through process of elimination, Lucas decided matter-of-factly that he would have to find another outlet for his sports dream. But not before taking a

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detour at law school in Chapel Hill. Lucas attended Guilford College as an undergraduate and majored in justice to prepare for law school at UNC-CH. “I went to law school for a semester and did OK,” Lucas said, smiling. “Mostly because my criminal law professor was a big Carolina fan, and he just wanted to talk to me about Carolina all the time.” When Lucas returned to graduate school in January, the ACC games were broadcasted at about 9 p.m., which conflicted with his 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. classes. School and games “really weren’t mixing that well,” Lucas said. When Lucas left one class and realized he had pretty much slept through the whole thing, he decided he needed to choose between going to class and watching the games. “In hindsight, it may not have been the wisest decision,” he said. “But I thought, ‘I can go to law school anytime, so let me find something to do with sports.’ So that’s what I did.” Lucas looks back on his short-lived graduate school days and laughs. “It ended up working out great,” he said. “But I don’t know if I’d want my kids to do the same thing.” the path to the press Lucas said the transition from sports into writing came in college. Guilford College’s newspaper was advertising openings, so Lucas stopped by an informational meeting, decided to join and became the editorials editor two weeks later. With similar ease, Lucas said he nabbed the dream job he has today because he “kind of fell into it.” He started Tar Heel Monthly because he needed something to do after law school. Rams Club, an organization of more than 13,000 members (mostly alumni) who donate money to UNC-CH athletic programs and scholarships, did not have a publication. Lucas saw potential. He set up a meeting with the Rams Club and proposed the idea of a Rams Club publication. They questioned whether he knew how to pull the publication together, but Lucas assured them that he was experienced. “So then I had to go home and figure out how to do it,” Lucas said. “The last seven years have been spent figuring out how to do it.” on the job Lucas describes writing for tarheelblue.com as “an offshoot of Tar Heel Monthly.” The job has given him the opportunity to witness firsthand some of the most formative moments in Carolina athletics history. Lucas counts the 2005 NCAA championship and the

2007 Baseball College World Series as two of his most memorable moments. The fans have been there through every victory and loss. During the basketball season, Lucas said he receives 75 to 100 e-mails each day. Messages range from Tar Heel fans wanting predictions for the upcoming sports season to people questioning Roy Williams’ coaching strategies. “Those are the craziest,” Lucas said. “You just have to say, ‘Thank you for supporting the Tar Heels. We’ll see what happens.’” Lucas spends a lot of time traveling with the team and interviewing players and coach Williams, but he said he is undaunted by their fame on and off the court. Instead, Lucas regards the leagues of fans with amusement. “We went to a game in Poplar Bluff, Mo., which is Tyler Hansbrough’s home town,” Lucas said. Inevitably, crowds of people swarmed Hansbrough to catch a glimpse or shout something. “I forget that when they leave (UNC-CH), people want pictures of them,” Lucas said. “At practice, they’re not that big of a deal.” But coach Roy Williams, who was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007, is a big deal. “At one game he signed 74 autographs in 20 minutes,” Lucas said. “He wouldn’t sign any during the game, so they put 20 minutes on clock, and Williams signed a hot dog wrapper, a cell phone, game tickets, pamphlets — anything.” Lucas’ most recent sports venture has taken him off the court and into the bookstores. He wrote “The Road to Blue Heaven” as a collaborative effort with Wes Miller, a UNC-CH basketball player who graduated in spring 2007. The book takes readers behind the scenes of the Carolina basketball powerhouse with stories from coach Williams and the players themselves. making it to the pros In the realm of college sports journalism, Lucas has made it to the pros, even interviewing UNC-CH alumnus Michael Jordan when Williams was being inducted into the Hall of Fame. “My wife asked me, ‘Were you more nervous the day you met Michael Jordan or the day you met me?’” Lucas said. “I said, ‘Well, I didn’t know who you would turn out to be, but I knew his reputation.’ She was the one who convinced me to quit law school and pursue a sports career. She turned out to be the Michael Jordan of wives.” Lucas now brings his son and daughter to games, infecting them with Tar Heel spirit like his dad did to him. Lucas frequently receives e-mails from kids interested in how he came to write about Carolina sports. Kids who are longing to rub elbows with their heroes, just as Lucas did when he was younger. “I always tell them to wait 30 years, and they can have it,” said Lucas. “A lot of people tell me this is their dream job, and it’s mine, too.”

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