Coach K Story, by RU Nick

Updated: April 5, 2015


By Nick Palmisciano

Duke University’s Grad School Camp-out is possibly the most ridiculous sanctioned event I have ever encountered.  For 36 hours, thousands of people drink themselves into oblivion and every so often a tiny bell rings.  When the bell rings, those thousands of drunk people, ranging in age from 22-40, sprint as fast as they can through the woods, over hills, weaving past RVs, dodging beer pong tables, and hurdling grills, and rush to the check-in stations so that they can stay in the running for a season ticket to Duke Basketball.  If you miss two checks, you are out.

To make the situation more absurd, the entire event is run by law students and PhDs – in other words, this thing would run smoother if we got Bobo the neighborhood chimp to make decisions by flinging his own feces at a wheel with random words on it, than to leave these “smart kids” in charge.

As luck would have it, my ETS date from active duty (I had been on terminal leave) coincided with my first Duke Campout.  I was now a civilian.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, but I decided that a party was in order.  I went to my “war chest” and pulled out the dozen or so super hero costumes that I had bought for John’s bachelor party and proferred them to my new found civilian friends.

Friend 1: Why would we wear super hero costumes?

Me: Because they’re 100% pure American awesomeness.

Friend 2: This seems a little juvenile.

Me: You seem a little juvenile.

Friend 2: Way to prove my point.

Me: Way to prove my point.

Friend 2: What to do you mean?

Me: What do you mean?

Friend 2: You’re seriously repeating everything I am saying?

Me: You’re seriously repeating everything I am saying?

Sam: This is fucking awesome!  I’m doing it.

Sam is a 5’ 5”, 190 pound Jewish guy who genetically should have no chance with any woman, but yet married a 6’1” Irish Catholic redhead from Harvard.  To call him fearless would be a gross understatement.  Sam called dibbs on Wolverine. I grabbed Superman.

Friend 1: Seriously, why would we do this?

Nick: Because when you are just a drunk guy running around saying inappropriate things, it is offensive.  When you’re a drunken superhero running around saying inappropriate things, you’re witty and fun.

Friend 1: I like what you are saying and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Now that the two loudest, most annoying, and soon to be drunkest guys had donned skintight costumes, the rest of the crew was shamed into joining in.

I threw Sam my spare Camelbak.  We filled them half with Vodka, half with Red Bull. The Superfriends were back in action.  superheroes

Over the next few hours, many things happened.  Some people passed out.  Others were attacked by the Superfriends.  The Superfriends may or may not have allegedly pretended to have super powers and started physically picking up random women and throwing them to each other or hurling chairs while making the sound from the Six Million Dollar Man.  One Superfriend possibly climbed up on top of an RV roof and may have fallen through the sunroof and landed on top of a sleeping, and very scared Greek student.  Later the Superfriends almost took a human (well a law student’s) life when the law student made me…err…I mean the Superfriends get rid of the 1200 gallons of Jello and the 12’ kiddie pool we had delivered so that the Physical Therapy girls could Jello wrestle the Nursing girls for charity.

Right when I was about to apply the Ranger Choke Hold that I learned from watching Scent of a Woman, the magical bell rang and Pavlov ruled supreme as Sam and I and the thousands of drunks rushed towards the check-in stations.

Upon arrival, I realized I was parched and took a pull off my Camelbak.  Mmmm…Red Bull…

We would soon find out this was no ordinary check-in.  Coach Mike Krzyzewski had come to pay us a surprise visit and give a motivational speech.

Most people know Coach K is a very successful basketball coach.  Fewer know that he was an artillery officer and a West Point graduate.  Fewer still understand that at Duke, this man is a God.  Not a “popular coach”, but a God.  He could (and might) have me killed for this essay.

Anyway, Coach K immediately launched into a series of self-deprecating jokes, as is his nature, and he started giving us an update about the upcoming season.  He was half-way through a discussion about JJ Redick getting a lot stronger in the off season, when he noticed Sam.

We were drunk enough at this point to have forgotten we were in costumes, and in the rush to get down there, the Superfriends were spread far and wide.  Sam, however, was dead center in the middle of the crowd, mere feet from Coach K.  He had spilled some red liquid over the front of his yellow tights and had lost his claws somehow.  Deciding that a Wolverine with no claws was unacceptable, he duct-taped plastic serrated knives to his hands.

He now had Coach K’s undivided attention.holy-jello

Coach K: What the hell?  I’m sorry, everyone.  You, stand up.

Unphased, Sam stands up.  He lets out a giant growl and maintains the Wolverine “fight” position.  I am proud.

Coach K: What are you doing?

Sam remains silent.

Coach K: Seriously, does your mom know you’re out here?

Everyone laughs.  Sam growls and slashes at the air with his plastic knives.

Coach K: Dude.  You’re out here in yellow tights by yourself.  Do you have any friends at all?

These are the moments I am made for.

I stand up sharply, put my hands on my hips, and calling upon Odin, God of Thunder, to grant me the biggest command voice the world has ever seen, I shout, “Well, he’s got at least one friend!”

Coach K looks up.  Superman is staring him down.

Batman emerges from the shadows, and with a quick turn to Coach K says, “There are worse things out here tonight than basketball coaches.”

Spiderman cartwheels out, pretending to web the Coach.

As the entire Super Friends cast and Austin Powers emerge onto the scene, thousands of people begin laughing their collective asses off.  We own this place.  Coach K has an enormous smile on his face.

Coach K: I like it.  I don’t know why, but I like it.  I’m not talking anymore – I’ll take some questions.

Me (Superman): Sir, I’ve got one, but it is personal in nature.

Coach K (thinking I am about to be mean-spirited): Be careful.

Me: How’s the Cow?

The question “How’s the Cow?” is a piece of West Point Plebe Knowledge.  At any point during any meal, a plebe can be asked “How’s the Cow?” which means “How much milk is on the table?”  There is only one acceptable answer.

Coach K did not hesitate.

Coach K: She walks.  She talks.  She’s full of chalk.  The lacteal fluid extracted from the female of the bovine species is highly prolific to the…wait one freakin’ second.  What year did you graduate West Point?

Me: 98, sir.

Coach K (smiling): Well I graduated 30 years before you, and I swore a long time ago I’d never ^%$%^ say that damn thing again, so sit the %^&# down and do pushups!

I complied, amused at my lot in life.

There I was, on my first day as a civilian, dropped by a man who had been out of uniform for 24 years, in front of a thousand or so people that were wondering what the hell me and my friends were thinking.

Civilian life wasn’t that different after all.




  1. Sager

    March 24, 2009 at 11:04 am

    That was flat awesome I had a little difficulty reading though the tears and belly laughing.
    I could only imagine the super friend’s introductions.

  2. Hank

    March 24, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Are the rumors true that Duke is now sponsoring the superheroes to recruit for the school? I’m suprised you didn’t just bodypaint yourself blue, shave your head bald, take a sharpie and draw a hydrogen atom on your forehead, and call yourself Dr. Manhattan. Love to see a superheroes thow down with Code Pink. I may have to write about Fantasy Night at Salmans House and my weekly visits on Thursdays to the local costume shop in Okinawa, Japan. Glad to see you’re leaving emperical evidence of the ingeniuosness/slight hint of insanity behind the business.

    Semper Fi, Hank

  3. Erika

    March 24, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Ah, the memories – when will you be posting part 2, “When Smurfs Attack”?????

  4. Hank

    March 24, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    I hate leaving the fat fingered version with my multiple typos unchallenged. Little quick on the trigger finger when I posted, my unwanted contribution to the myth that jarheads can’t spell. Here’s my redacted comment until Nick has a chance to take a break from saving the world and update.

    “Are the rumors true that Duke is now sponsoring the superheroes to recruit for the school? I’m surprised you didn’t just bodypaint yourself blue, shave your head bald, take a sharpie and draw a hydrogen atom on your forehead, and call yourself Dr. Manhattan. Love to see a superheroes throw down with Code Pink. I may have to write about Fantasy Night at Salmans House and my weekly visits on Thursdays to the local costume shop in Okinawa, Japan. Glad to see you’re leaving empirical evidence of the ingeniousness/slight hint of insanity behind the business.”

    Semper Spellcheck, Hank

  5. Mitch

    March 24, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    God that was fantastic ! To be that close to one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game must’ve been freakin’ awsome ! Go Superfriends !!!

  6. Kate

    March 25, 2009 at 8:26 am

    While I am bred to the line of thought that abhors Duke and all it stands for, I cannot deny the greatness that is Coach K. Nor can I deny any of the tears of hilarity running down my cheeks – I’m not sure which is better, Sam’s plastic claws or imagining you standing up to Coach K, ever so proudly, and announcing your tie to the silent man in yellow spandex. Clearly awesome.


  7. SatinPatriot

    March 25, 2009 at 9:19 am

    That’s HILARIOUS.

    I maintain that one of my favorite lines of writing… well, EVER… was when you wrote the first superfriends thing and were talking about 12 meatstick dudes in skintight superhero costumes. Ah, to bask in the glow of that mental image..

    So glad I don’t share an office. No one laughs out loud like that at work stuff.

  8. Kristin

    March 25, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    For the record, I am 6′ not 6’1″ and Scottish Episcopalian, not Irish Catholic, you Douchebag.

  9. Nick

    March 28, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Kristin’s a real sweetheart, folks.



  10. Amy

    March 29, 2009 at 9:58 am

    You forgot to mention how you guys thought it would be a great idea to have a kiddie pool full of jello outside of your RV. I think I remember you grossly underestimating the number of boxes of jello it would take to fill the thing, and I believe subsequent beer runs were also jello runs. “Twenty-four cases of Miller Light and 483 boxes of grape, cherry, and orange jello. That’ll be $867 please, Superman. By the way, you look like an asshole.”

    Didn’t you somehow use the pool of jello to raise money for some sort of cause? I think Wolverine was jumping in it, or eating it, or making love to it or something. For a blind homeless autistic children with juvenile diabetes, of course.

  11. Nick

    March 30, 2009 at 4:43 pm


    We did not underestimate – we had more than enough JELLO. The problem was that the caterer dropped off different colors of JELLO. We had not specified that we wanted uniformity, thinking that any caterer worth his salt would know that it just looks RIDICULOUS if you use multiple JELLO colors.

    Per our calculations, we had the requisite 18 inches of JELLO coverage for safety. Everyone’s a safety officer, Amy.

    And yes, we did raise money for charity.

  12. Logan

    April 14, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    To clarify, we actually had the jello catered, because there was no way to otherwise produce that much jello…and it’s for the kids, you know, the retarded kids.

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  14. Jill

    November 22, 2009 at 8:34 am

    As a graduate of UNC, I cannot believe you actually made me like anything associated with Dook University, muchless Coach Crybaby!! As stated in the article, I knew a long time ago when Coach Crybaby came to Dook and replaced Bill Foster as Coach, that he had been a West Point grad and Infantry Officer. As my hatred for all things Dook and especially Coach Crybaby grew to immense proportions over the years, this somehow had slipped my mind. Being a veteran of the US Military, mother of a 4th generation Marine (MARSOC) and proud mommy of a 2 1/2 year old son, whose father was a US Army Ranger killed last year, I will have to lighten up on Coach Crybaby. Oh, you will still find me amongst The Carolina Crazies, raising hell and screaming random insults at all Dookies, for it is in my blood to do so. HOWEVER, I will be yelling at Coach Crybaby, begrudgingly, with respect!

    Love you guys. Thanks for all you do and have done.


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