By: Jarrett Van Meter
“The British Tar Heel” got hooked on college hoops in Hendersonville
When George Harmer was offered a job as a counselor at Camp Kanuga in 2010, he had to Google where North Carolina was. A native of Norwich, England, he loved his experience in the local mountains — hiking, swimming, and even earning Kanuga’s Outstanding Male Counselor Award.
But aside from the friendships he formed, his greatest takeaway was a fervent and enduring passion for UNC basketball. After being introduced to the Tar Heels and Heels culture by fellow Kanuga counselors, Harmer — the “British Tar Heel” on social media — has become the team’s foreign diplomat of sorts. He hosts a UNC-themed podcast called the Tar Heel Show and maintains a blog, tarheelinternational.com.
Bold Life caught up with Harmer following his recent return trip to America, where he appeared on ESPN and attended three UNC basketball games, including getting to watch the Heels beat NC State 100-80 on Jan. 29 — a day before his thirtieth birthday.
How is Hendersonville different than your home town?
You can’t really compare it to England, especially my hometown. We do have some beautiful manmade lakes in our county, but Norwich is real flat.
How were you first introduced to the UNC Tar Heels?
My colleagues at Kanuga were UNC-Chapel Hill students. We were shooting hoops one day and I asked who’s the best college team, who should I support? They said Carolina. On my next day off, I drove to the local WalMart and bought some [UNC] shorts … I still have them today.
[Retired coach] Roy Williams is from this area — did that interest you?
I love Coach; he is my hero, and I talk about it all the time. I know Coach Williams came from Asheville, and of course, it added to my love of Western North Carolina and the connection with UNC.
You were interviewed on the ACC “Nothing But Net” show while you were recently in North Carolina …
Yeah, there was a lot of media opportunities in my week at UNC. Joel Berry [a former Tar Heel and professional player turned analyst] is a friend of mine after we met on my podcast, and he brought it up with the guys in ESPN. It was unbelievable.
Did the experience of attending a UNC game live up to the hype?
It exceeded it. It was a dream. I’ll forever be thankful for the kind staff at the University of North Carolina who treated my partner and me so well. We had a private tour of the facility, [were] able to watch practice and even shoot on the court … it will be a memory I’ll treasure forever.
How has your podcast been received by people in your hometown?
My friends and family listen, but my audience is 95 percent American. My followers on social media are pretty much all from North Carolina or at least UNC fans.
Going into March Madness, what does your Twitter account (@britishtarheel) look like?
It doubled while I was there — to 4,000 followers.
Back to Hendersonville — which restaurants/bars did you frequent while you were working at Kanuga?
No bars — I was 18 at the time! I remember going to Hannah Flanagan’s; I was young and there for four months, so if I wanted the closest thing to home, the Irish pub was that. My favorite spot to eat, though, apart from Chick-Fil-A, was Fireside … I still remember the pancakes, 12 years later.
Follow “The Tar Heel Show” on YouTube (www.youtube.com/c/thetarheelshow). On Twitter and Instagram: @britishtarheel.