NEW ORLEANS, L.A. (WTVD) -- This weekend is really driving home our relationship with sports as a community. For a lot of people what happens between the lines is deeply personal. Rebecca Feinglos, a Duke fan who grew up in Durham, has ridden a wave of emotions right into New Orleans.
"I grew up going to Duke games", says Feinglos. "Duke basketball and my relationship with my dad are like one and the same."
For over 40 years, Mark Feingloss worked at Duke as a doctor in the school of medicine and held season tickets at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
"And like I was at Duke games like in the womb and spent my entire life doing that with my father," Feinglos said.
Almost two years ago as the pandemic began, Mark's life came to an end at the age of 72.
"I worked in our state government in covid response so on the day of lockdown I was with our state team in the state emergency center when I got the news that my father had died very suddenly. It was crazy," Feinglos said.
Mark had blood clots in his lungs and tested negative for Covid postmortem. The loss flipped Rebecca's life upside down.
"And so, I left work for a month, and dealt with losing my father, my only parent. My mom died when I was a kid," she said.
Covid made grieving difficult. She leaned on friends like Alexandra Sterling, a former sorority sister of Rebecca's at Duke.
"No one was in touch together," says Feinglos. "You weren't allowed to hang out and grieve together personally, but we found ways to keep catching up. It was always nice to be able to take walks around different parks. "
Needing more, Rebecca decided to take what she calls a grieve leave. To honor her father and gain closure, she would attend as many Duke games this season as possible.
"So I can grieve for him by doing something that is actually really fun and meaningful. But when you think about it there is actually a lot of grief in sports right? Every loss hurts someone. Going into Cameron without him had felt really empty, but I also know he would have loved it. And its coach K's last season so I had to go," Feinglos said.
Rebecca headed to the ACC tournament, West Regional in San Francisco and of course the Final Four where this part of the journey eventually comes to an end along with the career of coach K.
"It could be his last game tonight, it won't be because we're going to win the tournament. But it could be and that feels deeply meaningful to me and it helps me kind of process all these feelings that I have," she said.
What would dad say about this journey?
"He would think it was pretty cool. He would be so excited for me. He loved Duke basketball. He loved Duke football too, that was a lot harder to be a fan of sometimes. He would be really excited. It has been a hell of a ride these past couple of years and my dad was my best friend. The fact that I get to do this and be thinking about him when I get to go watch the team that he loved? It's a joy. He would have loved the whole thing," Feinglos added.
Duke fan continues emotional journey to Final Four in honor of her late father