CHAPEL HILL, NC–Led by head football coach Larry Fedora towards the athletic dining hall for their last meal, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offensive linemen took the final steps in preparing for their annual winter hibernation.
“Come on boys, follow on behind me and get up in there,” Fedora yelled at the sluggish, but obedient linemen. “We’ve got to get you fed before winter hits.”
The linemen only responded with growls before following the coach up the staircase and into the dining hall.
“It’s a process we go through every winter,” said Bubba Cunningham, head of the Athletic Department. “We know hibernation is a vital part of an offensive linemen’s life and we want to make sure the university supports them in that process.”
Cunningham said one of the keys is offering enough food for the linemen.
For weeks, linemen have been eating five to six meals a day with at least 2,000 calories.
“It’s important for them to eat as much as possible now before they go into hibernation,” said Brendan Albright, team trainer. “Their metabolism, heart-rate and breathing will all slow and they need to store enough in their fat deposits to last for the winter.”
Albright says they have tried to accommodate those needs but it can be difficult.
As Fedora led the last of the linemen in, he saw Samuel Tish, a 315 pound starting offensive guard, throwing his body against the sandwich meat area and grunting.
“Oh shit,” Fedora whispered. “Did they run out of salami?”
One of the dining hall employees came racing around the corner to replace the meats, but it was too late, Tish was on his hind legs hitting his chest and roaring.
“He ain’t gonna bite you if you just put that damn meat down and get out of here,” Fedora hollered at the employee.
She threw the container of turkey, salami and ham on the floor and ran.
Tish emitted a low, guttural moan starring at her as she fled the scene, before shoving his face into the meat and quickly eating it all. Tired, he feel to the floor.
“Not yet Tish, get your damned ass up,” Fedora said. “Wait until we get to the cave in Kenan Stadium.”
Corralling the linemen, Fedora began their march towards Kenan Stadium. Entering the tunnel that led back to the cave, he sparked a large road flair.
“Y’all know the way better than I do now, go on,” he said.
The linemen lurched forward in a large pack. Within a 100 meters they came upon piles of Nike brand equipment and clothing they had been gifted in the last year. They began tearing at it, using the material to create nests that they would sleep in throughout the winter.
“Now, remember, I’m going to have to wake you up for the bowl game in a few weeks, don’t get too mad,” Fedora said. “But, like most games, you can probably just sleep through that too.”