Unexpected Recognition

I am indeed honored to have been selected by the Rams Club as the member to be spotlighted in the November issue of Tar Heel Monthly. I'm proud of this honor and hope you will afford me this moment of vanity if I include below the write up for those viewers who may not have access to THM.

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Frank Gay readily admits to being fanatical about the Tar Heels. Matter of fact, it says so right in his website address.

The Richmond resident operates the Carolina fan site found at www.ramfanatic.com . But, he says he never had any intention of starting an internet site about the Heels.

"I had written on a couple of other sites and posted lengthy articles about the history of Carolina sports" said the 1958 UNC graduate. "My nephew, Paul O'Neal, pulled all those articles and without saying a word he set them up and established the site. Then he called me on the phone and informed me that I had a website."

Gay's site deals primarily with historical aspects of Carolina athletics. In the past two years, he has tracked down and spoken with numerous figures in the Tar Heel pantheon , including Bill "Mouth of the South" Currie, Charlie Justice, and former head cheerleader Norman Sper, Jr. who is considered the father of the Aye Zigga Zoomba cheer. The cheer has been particularly important to Gay, who has been involved in a movement to get it more exposure to today's Kenan Stadium fans. He has discovered that the most difficult part is not getting fans who remember Aye Zigga Zoomba to support the cheer, but to agree on the words. Gay thinks the proper words are, "Mow them down you Tar Heel warriors ," others, including the Kenan Stadium cups last year, list it as "Roll them down," and former football star and current Rams Club staffer Ken Mack believes that it is "Bowl them down."

Complications don't usually stop Gay who served in the Air Force for four years before enrolling at Carolina. Several years ago, he noticed that a number of colleges, including Duke and Elon, had personalized license plates in the State of Virginia. After researching the matter, he learned that UNC's own drive to get Tar Heel plates in the Commonwealth was faltering, and he took up the cause. The reason for the faltering soon became clear. Duke and Elon signed up for their plates under much less restrictive rules, some of which required only 50 commitments to produce a plate. The state of Virginia had recently altered that requirement , upping the number to 350, all of which had to be pre-paid.

Eventually, Gay rounded up the necessary number. That's how he wound up at the Powhatan Correctional facility outside of Richmond with an inmate asking him his wife's name.

"I watched them make the first one," he said. "The prisoner turned to me and asked my wife's first name, and I thought that was a little personal, but when I saw him set the stamping machine to her name, Betty, I realized what was going on. That was the first one, and we're now up to 2002 Tar Heel plates in Virginia.

The Tar Heels aren't Gay's only passion. He and Betty are longtime collectors of country store items, and the couple has set up their living room, which does not include a single piece of furniture, like a turn of the century country store.