Tar Heel superfan from Thailand gets opportunity of lifetime

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Chut Techalertavornkul, who goes by Chut, bleeds Carolina blue. From halfway across the globe he dutifully follows his Heels.

"I watch the game on my cellphone and talk to my friends," he said.

Terry Collins was the Carolina evangelist in Chut's case. The two were co-workers in Bangkok and made a voyage stateside seven years ago. Chut came for training, while Collins came to visit family.

It just so happened to coincide with the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Greensboro. It was an opportunity Collins didn't want Chut to miss. "I just thought, it has to happen," said Collins.

Collins and Chut flew from Kansas City to RDU and then drove to Greensboro. They watched the top-seeded Heels dispatch Vermont and, as an added bonus being Carolina fans, saw Lehigh upset Duke.

Chut was smitten. "Before I went here seven years ago, I never have a team, like a fan for any team, but when I came here and experienced the real experience in the stadium, I just feel it, like it, love it," he said.

Basketball soon ended, so when he was back home Chut decided he needed to follow the baseball team. That was despite never having seen a baseball in his life, much less a baseball game.

"For baseball I need to learn it, to understand it," he said.

With his pal Collins' help, and the voice of Jones Angell over the internet, Chut was a quick study. Collins laughed, "By the end of the season he could talk baseball just about as well as I could."

Chut's passion for the Diamond Heels grew. He once wrote a letter congratulating Mike Fox on winning ACC Coach of the Year.

To his surprise, Fox wrote back. "That card really made my day. I love it," said Chut.

Fast forward to this past December and Chut and his wife Pong - he was married wearing Carolina blue of course - had finally saved enough money to plan a trip to Chapel Hill. Knowing this, the team had a treat in mind. Chut would be throwing out the first pitch.

He was both excited and worried. "I've never done that before and it's quite hard for me to practice," he said.

That's putting it mildly.

Chut had to ask a friend taking a trip to Japan to procure him a baseball. He then enlisted his wife as a catcher, with an oven mitt for a glove.

On Tuesday, the big day arrived. Chut received a royal reception, some more of his beloved UNC "gears" and even got in some practice reps. Soon it was time for the big moment. "I'm very nervous right now," he said.

Chut took the mound and stared into Michael Busch at home plate - his favorite player by the way - and delivered on target. Yeah, it was a one-hopper, but who's counting? Afterward, the nerves were still there.

The Diamond Heels obliged with a walk-off home run that afternoon and Coby White gave them a show at night. Safe to say, he's an even bigger fan now.

"I'm super excited right now," he said.

His buddy Collins chimed in, "It's just been a love affair with North Carolina."
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