During a recent trip to Davidson, North Carolina, I strolled down Main Street across from the campus of my alma mater Davidson College. Locals often greet each other by name along the red brick sidewalks, pausing to exchange pleasantries en route to the post office or beloved Soda Shop. Happy to extend my excursion in the quiet town, I checked out Wildcat gear at the new bookstore and picked up an iced tea at Summit Coffee.
Davidson lies only about 20 miles north of my home in Charlotte, but the stretch of highway seems to span time as well as distance. Even though I’m well aware of the decade plus since my graduation, I half-expected to run into one of my college friends who now live in Chicago, New York or somewhere else far outside the “Davidson bubble”. Despite proximity to new shopping centers and real estate developments, the heart of town carefully preserves its insulated and idyllic feel. Just as our education focused on the classroom rather than post-graduate careers, life in Davidson revolves around the college and town rather than proximity to Charlotte.
When Stephen Curry propelled the Davidson men’s basketball team into the Elite 8 in 2008, the national spotlight also shined on the college. We relished every media appearance, every second of the three victories leading up to a heartbreaking loss to Kansas. While boosting Davidson’s reputation beyond the South, the unlikely run did not bring dramatic changes to the village off of I-77. In his article “Remembering the Davidson Basketball Moment” in the March issue of Charlotte Magazine, Davidson alum Michael Kruse wrote, “The legacy of what they all (the men’s basketball team) did in 2008 isn’t what many people think. It didn’t change the school. Davidson College is still Davidson College. And Davidson basketball is still Davidson basketball.”
Davidson alumni and fans are cheering once again this week, as the team won the Southern Conference tournament and earned a spot in the NCAA tournament on Monday night. Buying a T-shirt for my daughter to show her Wildcat spirit will be the perfect excuse for another trip.
I’m certainly biased in my affection, but think every visitor can find plenty of charm (and a sinfully good milkshake at the Soda Shop) on a walk through Davidson. Below are a few favorite spots to check out: