More Monday: Team Spirit Aboard the USS Carl Vinson

By Posted in - Marketing on November 14th, 2011

Photo by Andrew Dye, photographer/videographer for

In an exciting season opener and a fitting tribute to veterans across the country, the University of North Carolina Tar Heels took on the Michigan State Spartans aboard the USS Carl Vinson, an active aircraft carrier that seven months before was the final resting place of Osama bin Laden before his body was buried at sea.

And who was the brains behind this carefully executed and wildly successful event? Let’s start with Michigan State’s athletic director, Mark Hollis, who dreamed up the event. After roping in Mike Whalen and his team at Morale Entertainment, an event production agency established as a “labor of love and respect to our fighting men and women,” it became a reality. And a wonderful reality, at that.

You wouldn’t believe the logistical undertaking this event truly was. From coordinating dates with the United States Navy (remember, the Vinson is an active aircraft carrier — it’s needed at sea) to figuring out how to pay for the event (advertising, grants and a sponsorship from Quicken Loans did the trick), it took a lot of negotiating between Whalen’s team and the United States Navy to pull off this whole thing.

So why do we, at Clairemont, get so excited when we talk about this event? Aside from it being a logistical challenge and my love for all things Tar Heels and Roy Williams and college basketball, this event never lost sight of the most important team there: our military.

Hosted on Veteran’s Day — 11/11/11 — this event was destined to be extra special for all of the active servicemen and servicewomen aboard. For starters, it was a chance to kick back and relax and enjoy a college basketball game (not to mention it was between two great teams — never forget that fateful night on April 6, 2009). It was also a chance to interact with some of college basketball’s former greats like Magic Johnson, James Worthy and one of my personal favorites, Tyler Hansbrough. Even President Barack Obama was on board for this — he couldn’t miss an epic rematch between the Tar Heels and the Spartans, but he also couldn’t miss being there to support our military.

My favorite quote of the evening came from Camp Pendleton Staff Sgt. Darian Washington in his interview with Julie Watson of the Associated Press. He said: “It’s a bittersweet moment for me. It shows they appreciate us. We haven’t been forgotten. It means a lot.”

How proud we are to have witnessed such a moving event — the celebration of one of America’s favorite sports with America’s favorite team — the men and women who serve and protect this country each and every day.

Now we want to hear from you. What were some of your favorite highlights from the event? What do you think about the PR/marketing efforts and messaging behind all of this? Drop us a line in the comment section below.



(5) awesome comment(s)...

  • Dana Hughens - Reply

    November 20, 2011 at 12:50 am

    A very well-planned and meaningful event. What a great honor for our Tar Heels to be part of it. I wonder if they will ever do something like this again or what other ideas this has sparked. Loved the creativity of it.

  • Marcus - Reply

    November 16, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    I’m just happy the announcers kept the ship related jokes/puns to a minimum. I was afraid we were going to hear “he couldn’t throw it in the ocean” after every missed shot. But it was a great way to honor the vets. Go Heels, Go America!

  • Amy Holter - Reply

    November 15, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Here in D.C., a 3-story bar was filled with Carolina-blue shirts, hats, face stickers, you name it. The game was shown on huge, flat-screen TVs as people enjoyed drink and dinner specials and, at least in my case, saw people they hadn’t seen in years! Games like this one really brought the Carolina alumni out en mass and it was a great way to mesh all the important themes of the day. It was really cool for Obama to be present…but we all wanted to get to the game and were antsy during his speech. In sum, as always….GO HEELS!

  • Glenn - Reply

    November 14, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    They didn’t show it on TV, but after the game and trophy presentation, players from both teams gave their jerseys to the wounded warriors in attendance. Classy move from both the Tar Heels and Spartans.

    • Josephine Butler - Reply

      November 14, 2011 at 7:55 pm

      Glenn, I had no idea that they did that either! I bet the whole evening was full of surprises for vets and fans, alike. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

Please leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.