Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Program Defining Moments
Last night, the 49ers nationally-ranked men’s soccer team defeated #3 Wake Forest, 3-1, on the road. This result got me thinking about program defining moments for each of the Charlotte 49ers athletic teams. This would easily be one of the defining moments for a 49ers men’s soccer team that has several moments in their history. Another defining moment was the last time that the 49ers defeated a top five team when Charlotte beat #1 South Carolina, 3-1, on the road, November 6, 1994. The victory was the program’s first-ever over the #1 ranked team in the country and the game was also for the Metro Conference regular-season title. Another defining moment for the 49ers men’s soccer program came when Charlotte shutout Hartford, 3-0, in the NCAA Tournament to advance to the 1996 College Cup.
The women’s soccer team has enjoyed tremendous success during the program’s 16-year history. A couple of moments come to mind winning the 1998 Conference USA Tournament to earn the program’s first bid to the NCAA Tournament. Another moment came later that season when Charlotte defeated South Carolina, 2-0, for the program’s first NCAA Tournament win. The magical 2002 season began with victories over South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Miami and Florida State. In 2007, the 49ers defeated #17 Clemson, 3-1, for another program defining moment.

The 49ers volleyball program’s defining moment was the creation of the nation-wide fund raiser for breast cancer research called Dig For the Cure. Former 49ers volleyball coach Lisa Marston started the fund raiser in 2002. Marston maintained the Dig for the Cure philanthropy and joined forces with Dig Pink for this season, which joins with the Side-Out Foundation for raising awareness and money for Breast Cancer Research. In 2008, 227 programs across the country, including Charlotte, raised over $260,000 for Dig for the Cure, while 330 teams raised nearly $400,000 last year for Dig Pink. Dig for the Cure helped raise almost $600,000 over the last six seasons. Dig Pink is not only a single-match fundraiser, but also has planned volleyball festivals in Orlando, Virginia and Maui. The 49ers will play Fordham this Friday, October 2 at 7 pm in their Dig Pink match in Halton Arena. The 49ers players will wear pink uniforms for the match.
The 49ers cross country program’s defining moment came last November when Adu Dentamo and Amanda Goetschius captured the men’s and women’s Atlantic 10 individual championships. What made the result even more program defining was that the A-10 Championship were held on Charlotte’s campus.
The 49er men’s basketball program has had several defining moments in its history. The program’s ultimate defining moment came when Charlotte defeated #1 Michigan, 75-68, in the 1977 Mideast Regional final to advance to the Final Four. Another defining moment was an 81-79 win over VCU in the 1988 Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship game. The victory gave the 49ers their first NCAA Tournament bid since 1977. Another defining moment was defeating #7 Cincinnati and Louisville in consecutive days to capture the 1999 Conference USA Championship.
The 49ers women’s basketball team’s defining moment came last Spring in Halton Arena when Charlotte defeated Richmond, 59-54, to capture their first Atlantic 10 Tournament title. The victory was the program’s first conference tournament title and gave Charlotte their second-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament. Another defining moment came in 2003, when Charlotte defeated Tulane, 86-80, to capture the Conference USA regular-season title.
The 49ers men’s tennis teams defining moment came in 2007 when the 49ers defeated Xavier, 4-3, to capture the Atlantic 10 Championship and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. This result gave the 49ers their first-ever conference tournament title as well as the program’s first-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Charlotte’s women’s tennis program’s defining moment came in 2006, when the 49ers defeated Xavier, 4-0, in the A-10 Tournament semifinals. The victory gave the 49ers the program’s first-ever appearance a league championship match.
The 49ers softball program’s has enjoyed unparalleled success over the past four seasons. The defining moment for the 49ers came on April 9, 2006, when the 49ers split a doubleheader at A-10 power Massachusetts. The 49ers defeated UMass, 2-1, in the first game of the doubleheader. The 49ers went onto to win 42 games and share the A-10 regular-season crown with Massachusetts that season.
The 49ers baseball program has had several defining moments in their history. In my opinion, their ultimate defining moment came in 2007, when Charlotte defeated NC State twice in an NCAA Regional. The two wins over NC State were the program’s first-ever two NCAA Tournament victories. In 2007, the 49ers won a school-record 49 games and for the first time in school history, the 49ers captured both the regular-season and conference tournament titles.
The 49ers golf team has made five straight NCAA Championship and captured four straight A-10 Championship. The defining moment for the program came in 2007 when the 49ers finished tied for third at the NCAA Championships that were played at the Golden Horseshoe Gold Course in Williamsburg, Virginia.

The 49ers men’s and women’s track and field program’s have had many defining moments particularly over the past five years. The 49ers women’s track and field team has captured four straight A-10 Indoor and Outdoor Championships. While, 49ers men’s track and field team has captured three outdoor and two indoor A-10 Championships. In my opinion, the defining moment for the 49ers track and field program came in March of 2008, when former 49ers four-time All-American sprinter Shareese Woods won two bronze medals at the World Indoor Track and Field Championships in Valencia, Spain in March, 2008. Woods lowered her lifetime best 400m dash time throughout the three rounds of competition, finishing third in the final with a 51.41. In her fourth 400 of the weekend and second of the day, Woods ran the third leg of the 4x400m relay, recording the fastest split of the USA squad that finished third in 3:29.30 behind Russia and Belarus.
Now that the 49ers men’s soccer program created a defining moment last night with their victory over #3 Wake Forest, hopefully that is only the beginning of program defining moments in the Charlotte 49ers athletic department in 2009-10.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Uptown Tip-Off Means Hoop Season is Right Around The Corner

Next Tuesday, the 49ers will host their annual Uptown Tip-Off, complete with games, giveaways and the unofficial start to the 2009-10 college basketball season. Practice gets underway, for real, in mid-October, the 49ers will hold their Basketball Madness, Oct. 22 as well as a Fan Day, Oct. 24.

October will quickly turn to November -- and a men's basketball exhibition game, Nov. 5, with Johnson C. Smith that is guaranteed to attract a huge crowd, the home opener with UNC Asheville on Friday the 13th and the Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off, in Durham, Nov. 16 and 17.

It is not that far way. And it all starts, next Tuesday -- in uptown Charlotte -- at The Square (intersection of Trade and Tryon) from 11:30 -1:00 p.m. The 49ers, including head coaches Bobby Lutz and Karen Aston, will be on-hand. The band, cheerleaders and Gold Dusters will all be out. Fans can drop by and talk basketball and they can win season and game tickets and/or apparel.

And they can start thinking, breathing, and living basketball.

It's the last Tuesday of September, and hoops season is close enough to touch. The crowds will start pouring in to Halton Arena. Shamari Spears and Shamarr Bowden will make their long-awaited 49ers debuts. Ian Andersen will blow his kisses. DiJuan Harris will dive for loose balls. We'll meet newcomers who could become household names, like Braswell and KJ, Derrio and Gokhan. The crowd will chant "LOOOOTZ", and the players will high five Niner Nation after the game.

You get the feeling Halton will be rocking this year. Let's not stop at Halton, though. Let's rock Charlotte.
Your Town. Your Team.

Tom Whitestone

Assoc. A.D./Media Relations

Monday, September 28, 2009

Throwbacks are not always a good idea...

For the first time in seemingly forever I had a Sunday off work. No home mens soccer, womens soccer or volleyball games. Big deal? Well, I was finally able to commit my Sunday to nothing but football.

What is better than going to the bar with about 15 televisions all tuned into different games? Honestly it’s a little overwhelming.

But now to the point of this entry….throwbacks!

The Tennessee Titans sported Houston Oilers colors while the New York Jets wore an abomination of a throwback jersey that one guy at the bar was actually wearing (It was a Favre jersey to boot, haha!)

Teams do it all the time across all sports, heck the Philadelphia 76ers are reverting back to their old logo on a full-time basis this season.

Which leads me to Charlotte, specifically men’s basketball. Some throwbacks are good (these warmups are good), others are just plain awful.

I know we don’t embrace the ‘UNCC’ tag. We are just Charlotte, but back in 1977 when we marched to the Final Four ‘UNCC’ was emblazoned across the front of Chad Kinch’s and Cornbread’s chest.

While we should celebrate our history, in a situation like this to help enforce the fact that ‘UNCC’ is no longer an acceptable term when describing 49er athletics we should bring them back. Just for one game. Go for broke. Look at those shorts! How did they play basketball? The socks are a must wear as well. Then after the game load them on a plane destined for some South American country and have a Shaman bury them in a mountain side deep in the jungle never to be seen again.

Throwback games are fun. Turn back the clock night in Halton arena a few years ago vs. TCU was awesome! We should do it more often….er maybe not!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Picture Day

Yesterday, I took part in some afternoon reminiscing (day dreaming, if you will) while at work. In my mind, I journeyed back to a time and place that I dreaded each school year in my youth. Was it the first day of school, possibly final exams, no it was quite worse than that it was Picture Day.

Let me first explain before the ridiculing ensues. I know everyone was dressed up in their “best” sweater or favorite outfit especially in the elementary school days for the event. The sweater or other attire would be hideous with varying designs and multiple colors (and possibly illegal to wear in seven states).
As random as this post may be, I will divulge into my topic on hand. I’m of course talking about picture day that we at the Media Relations Department must partake in around 15 times a year, when we must get fresh headshots of 49er Student-Athletes and incoming freshman and transfers for the upcoming seasons.

Yesterday, yours truly had the privilege of holding a picture day for the largest team on Charlotte’s campus, the Track and Field team. Despite my disdain for picture day in former years, I look forward to it now a day because it is a great chance to meet the new athletes and see them interact off their playing surface.

Most fans only see their favorite 49er athletes perform on the field and don’t see their true personality and interaction with one another, but those who get to know these athletes outside of the sports arena are treated to a wide arrange of characters.

Throughout the afternoon more than 60 track & field poured into the conference room for their annual photo shoot. The best part of about getting so many athletes in the same room for photos is to see their best efforts to make the person having their picture taken burst out laughing during their chance in front of the camera. Hearing a room full of athletes combine forces towards the greater good of making someone laugh in the middle of their picture is quite a spectacle and quite enjoyable.

Not only is there the banter towards the picturee (is that a word?) but there is also the attempt for the athletes to look their absolute best by correcting every hair follicle and trying out different smiles or scowles with multiple retakes to ensure the best headshot is obtained for website and media guide purposes.

Anyways I thought I would share the behind the scenes activities that occur for us at the Media Relations Department. Also make sure to come out to this weekend’s only home event as women’s soccer hosts Duquesne in the A-10 opener tonight at 7 p.m.
-- Patrick McCoy, 49er Media Relations --

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Stranger in a Strange Land

Around the country, many coaches will redshirt a freshman to let them adjust to the college lifestyle (going to class, learning the college game, let them mature socially, academically and/or physically). From time to time, a freshman comes along that a coach decides needs to be on the floor to help the team right away.

The Charlotte volleyball program has a pair of freshmen that play significant time on the floor, Jenna Litoborski and Bianca Rouse. Litoborski is from Lemont, Illinois, while Rouse hails from Columbia, S.C. Litoborski leads Charlotte with 141 kills (2.66 per set), while Rouse is third with 109 kills (2.32 per set).

"They bring a lot of spunk to the team," said setter Sheri Davis. "This team is certainly more talented on the floor with those two, who have amazing jumping ability."

"Jenna is hard to rattle and brings a very even and consistent demeanor, which says a lot for a freshman," said assistant coach Jay "Bubba" Correll.

"Bianca has a lot of untapped potential and is amazingly athletic. She is always smiling and fun to be around."

Though they come from different backgrounds, these two meshed well quickly and were embraced by teammates on the floor and off.

"We're all really close," said Litoborski.

"I love our freshmen. We all get along well and spend time together on and off the court. We've learned a lot about each other and met each other's parents. It's such a family atmosphere here."

The transition from high school to college can be tough, no matter what level of athleticism a player brings to the table. With Litoborski so far from home (nearly 800 miles by car), she looked to her teammates for assistance in the transition, and playing volleyball together made that simpler.

"It was hard being far from home the first week or so, but we all support each other, which makes it easier. The freedom of being a college student is great, but you have to be good with time management at college," said Litoborski.

On the floor, Litoborski said the transition was easier though she did notice right away the difference in the college game from high school.

"College volleyball is a lot more fun because of the intensity and because the play is so much faster than the high school game."

For her effort so far this season, Litoborski has been named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week twice in the first four weeks of the season. She has earned an All-Tournament team berth twice this year (High Point, Coastal Carolina).

Charlotte begins Atlantic 10 Conference play in Philadelphia on Friday at 7 p.m. versus Temple, with the follow-up A-10 match at La Salle on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The 49ers in the Atlantic 10 Conference
This weekend, the Charlotte 49ers women’s soccer team and volleyball teams begin Atlantic 10 play with two games apiece. The 49ers women’s soccer team begins it quest for a fourth straight A-10 regular-season title when they play Duquesne (September 25 at 7 pm) at Transamerica Field. Then, the 49ers conclude the weekend on the road at Fordham, Sunday, September 27. While, the 49ers volleyball team, which has won seven of its last eight matches, begins A-10 play in the City of Brotherly Love this weekend. Charlotte battles Temple (September 25) and La Salle (September 27) on the road. This brings me to the point of this article, which is the 49ers success in the Atlantic 10 in the four plus years that the school has been in the league.

As I mentioned earlier, the 49ers women’s soccer team has captured the last three Atlantic 10 regular-season titles as well as the last two Atlantic 10 Tournament titles. Over the last three years, the 49ers are 28-2-1 against A-10 competition during the regular-season. The team has had 13 different players earn All-Atlantic 10 honors. Nikki Dumencich was named A-10 Rookie of the Year in 2005. While, Lindsey Ozimek (2007) and Hailey Beam (2008) have each earned A-10 Midfielder of the Year honors. Whitney Weinraub was named A-10 Offensive Player of the Year last season.

Former 49er volleyball standout Carly Romberg is the only player in A-10 history to be named Libero of the Year and she received that award twice in 2007 and 2008. Several former 49ers volleyball stalwarts Alma Arroyo, Cori Dayton and Lisa Newell earned first-team All-Atlantic 10 honors during their careers.
The 49ers men’s soccer program reached the Championship game of the 2007 A-10 Tournament. Last season, former 49ers All-American Chris Salvaggione was named A-10 Offensive Player of the Year after leading the league in goals. Thirteen different 49ers have earned All-Atlantic 10 honors over the last four years.

Last season, the cross country runners Adu Dentamo and Amanda Goetschius captured the A-10 Individual Championships in men’s and women’s cross country respectively. What made this feat even more satisfying was that the A-10 Cross Country Championships were run at Charlotte, November 1. The women’s team led by All-Atlantic 10 performers Goetschius, Keara Thomas and Aja Jackson finished second in the A-10.
Last season, the 49ers women’s basketball team captured the A-10 Tournament title on their home court in early March. The A-10 Tournament title was the first conference tournament title in school history. In 2006, the 49ers captured a share of the A-10 regular-season title the first season that Charlotte was in the league. In each of Charlotte’s four seasons in the A-10, the 49ers have had a bye in the first round of the A-10 Tournament after finishing among the top four teams in the league during the regular-season. Last season, Shannon McCallum became the first 49er to be named A-10 Sixth Player of the Year. Seven different 49ers have earned All-Atlantic 10 honors.
Charlotte’s men’s basketball team reached the semifinals of the 2008 A-10 Tournament. The 49ers have made two postseason tournament appearances in the four years that Charlotte has been in the A-10. Four different 49ers have earned All-Atlantic 10 honors.
Charlotte’s women’s tennis team has never finished lower than fifth in the A-10’s 14-team league. In 2006, Charlotte reached the Championship match of the A-10 Tournament. Seven different 49ers have earned All-Atlantic 10 honors led by 2007 A-10 Freshman of the Year Ana Spivakovsky, who is a three-time All-Atlantic 10 selection.
Charlotte’s men’s tennis team made the program’s first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament after capturing the 2007 A-10 Tournament title. Former 49ers standout Roy Sichel, who was named A-10 Player of the Year twice, became the first 49er to reach the NCAA Singles Tournament which he did twice while the 49ers have been a member of the A-10. .
Charlotte’s softball program has enjoyed unparalleled success in the A-10. Charlotte captured the 2006 A-10 regular-season title which was the 49ers first year in the league. In 2008, the 49ers reach the A-10 Tournament Championship game for the first time in school history. Ten 49ers have earned All-Atlantic 10 honors over the last four years.
The 49ers baseball team has captured two A-10 Tournament titles, an A-10 regular-season title, and reached an NCAA Regional twice during Charlotte’s four years in the A-10. The 2007 team won a school-record 49 games overall and went an impressive 23-4 in the A-10. In 2007, former 49ers standout All-American Adam Mills was named A-10 Pitcher of the Year. In 2008, former 49ers standout Chris Taylor was named A-10 Player of the Year. Aaron Bray (2006) and Corey Shaylor (2008) were each named A-10 Rookie of the Year.
Charlotte’s men’s golf team has captured the A-10 title in each of the program’s four years in the league. The 49ers have made five straight NCAA Tournament appearances. Charlotte earned consecutive Top 10 finishes (T3rd in 2007 and T8th in 2008) at the NCAA Championship as a member of the A-10.
The 49ers women’s track and field team has captured four straight A-10 Indoor and Outdoor Championships. Standout women’s track and field performers Lamarra Currie, Shareese Woods, Aja Jackson and Ebonie Cunningham earned individual A-10 honors as well.
The 49ers men’s track and field team has captured three outdoor and two indoor A-10 Championships. Darius Law, Chase Eckerd, Jason Roberts, Sam Jordan and Isaac McReynolds have earned individual A-10 honors.
So fans please come out an cheer on the 49ers various athletic teams since they all rank among the A-10’s best.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What's Your Intro Song?

Everyone's got a favorite song or songs. A song that describes you. A song you lean on. Heck, baseball players often have their very own hand-picked intro song every time they come up to the plate. What would be your intro song?

I remember back in high school, our soccer team was on the bus heading to the Western Mass. Championship. As we pulled up to the field, Loverboy's "The Kid is Hot Tonight" came on (did I mention that this was a long time ago?). For whatever reason, right then and there, I knew we were going to win. It really wasn't a favorite song of mine, but I loved to hear it on game day. Hearing it that day, there was enough in the words to tell me the day was ours. And it was. 3-0.

With that in mind I give you some suggestions for intro songs for the men's hoop team returnees:

Phil Jones: Easy. "Mr. Jones" by the Counting Crows. Phil's presence does require a certain level of respect. Now if we could only get Barry White to contribute vocals it would be perfect. Barry White. Deep Voice. Introducing "Mr. Jones". Mr. Jones and me -- we're gonna be big stars.

Ian Andersen: His parents, who met while his Dad was in a rock and roll band, did name him after the Jethro Tull lead singer. But it's difficult to go with a Tull song, like "Thick as a Brick". "Brick" should never be in a shooter's vocabulary. So, I'm going a different way. "Rock and Roll All Night". First of all, come game time, Ian's fired up like so many heavy metal pyrotechnics. Second of all, it's by KISS. Enough said.

Shamari Spears: Since he is solid beyond dispute, now might be a good time to use "Thick as a Brick". But I was thinking maybe "Thunder Rolls". Better yet -- "Sledgehammer". His name may say spears, but his body says wrecking ball.

Shamarr Bowden: "Splish Splash", cuz his shooting is wet, dude. Like getting caught in a storm. A kid in a sprinkler. Soaking. When he let's them fly -- splash, splash, splash.

RaShad Coleman: "Rocket Man". I ain't saying he can sky like Coley -- but he does love putback jams and he did take one away from CCIII, last year. Nice hops. Ready for lift-off whenever he's around the rim.

Charles Dewhurst: "Theme to Six-Million Dollar Man". We can rebuild him. We have the technology. Stronger. Faster. Dewey is ultra-athletic with mesmerizing skills. And despite his injuries, he will come back. Stronger. Faster.

An'Juan Wilderness: "Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown". He's not from the south side of Chicago, but Southern Illinois head coach Chris Lowery did compare him to a junkyard dog. "Wilderness, he was toughness. He's a junkyard dog", Lowery said. The baddest man in the whole darn town.

DiJuan Harris: So many choices. "I Can't Drive 55", because he's always full speed ahead. "8 Days A Week" -- this kid was born ready, willing and able to work overtime. "Running on Empty" -- even when his tank should be low on fuel, he's still in high gear. How about we just take "Heart of a Champion" and leave it at that.

Kyle Church: "Time of Your Life". I've spoken to him enough to know he's having a ball and making the most of his opportunity. Good advice for just about anyone, really, when you think about it.

Tom Whitestone
Assoc. A.D./Media Relations

Monday, September 21, 2009

Charlotte Partakes in Twitter Revolution

As many of you may know, the Charlotte Athletic Department is tweeting. For those who may have been living in a galaxy far far away…

There is this thing called Twitter. (Twitter doesn’t come up as a misspelled word in my word processor, who knew it was an actual word? I need to check the dictionary…)

twitter: n 1:a small tremulous intermittent noise (as made by a swallow) 2: a light chattering; 3: a slight agitation of the nerves

And on this thing called Twitter, people create a profile and use 140 characters to provide updates on what exactly they are up to at that very moment or explain how much they truly love Fruity Pebbles.

You won’t get the latter on Charlotte’s Twitter site, but you will get in-game updates live from the press box, road diaries when we travel with the team and insider info about Charlotte athletics all sent directly to your email or mobile device.

I currently do not have a personal Twitter account, I will eventually but not right now. However, I do find it valuable to read other folks Twitter pages. For example…

I enjoy reading 49er beat writer Jim Utter’s page as he provides NASCAR updates throughout the weekend. He will also tweet from courtside at Niner Mens Basketball games.

I’m a big fan of Bill Simmons from ESPN so I have his twitter page bookmarked in my favorites.

I keep up with Coach Aston on her official twitter page. As I write this on Monday morning she is up in Virginia fishing, trying to catch one. ;)

The next step? I want 49er athletes to tweet during games. Imagine Dijuan Harris going into the lockerroom at half, pulling out his cell and sending a quick tweet before Lutz comes in. It would be awesome!

Or how about Evan James scores a goal and apart of his celebration, he pulls his Blackberry out and starts tweeting. Awesome!

This will never happen. I’m sure if it did, the NCAA would come down so hard and fast the only question would be how lengthy the suspension would be. Eh, whatever. I’m embracing the Twitter revolution. So should you. It’s a great way to keep in touch with your favorite sports team and athletes.

Follow us at

Friday, September 18, 2009

September Tournament Madness

Tournament time is always the most exciting part of the athletic calendar. Whether it is March for the annual basketball madness or in the fall championship season, tournaments captivate the fascination of fans in attendance at games or at home tuning in.

Last year was an exciting time for tournament play for Charlotte both in the regular season tournaments and in postseason. The men’s soccer team claimed three regular season tournament titles by winning Davidson’s Adidas Classic, UNC-Wilmington’s Courtyard Marriott Classic and finally their own tournament, the Charlotte Nike Invitational. Not to be outdone in the fall months, the women’s soccer squad took home their second straight Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship.

Several other Niner teams excelled in tournament play as women’s basketball won three straight games in the A-10 Tournament to claim their first conference title and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in school history. The softball team claimed two spring regular season titles by winning the Green and White Tournament and the First Pitch Classic.

What I’m getting at here is that Charlotte has a chance to take down another tournament title this weekend as Charlotte men’s soccer hosts the Charlotte Nike Invitational, which brings Winthrop, Appalachian State and California State Bakersfield into town for the annual tournament at Transamerica Field.

If you are fan of soccer (or even if you aren’t) the games are expected to be thrillers and full of emotion as Charlotte looks to protect their turf against their incoming opponents.

Today, the 49ers face Cal-Sate Bakersfield, which is the alma mater of head coach Jeremy Gunn and assistant coach Kyle Gookins. The two will square off against their mentor and former coach Simon Tobin at 7:30 p.m. The opening game of the tournament will pit Winthrop against Appalachian State at 2:30 p.m.

After a day break, Charlotte will face Winthrop at 7 p.m., while App. State and Cal-State Bakersfield will face each other at 11 a.m. The 49ers will be looking to extend their seven-match unbeaten streak against the Eagles, which dates back to 1982.

So there it is, come to Transamerica today and Sunday to see your 49ers extend Charlotte’s run of excellence in tournaments by hopefully adding another trophy to their mantle.

-- Partick McCoy, 49ers Media Relations --

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fundraising 101

In today's economy, it's amazing to hear stories of people willing and able to give money to different causes. There is a lot of talk right now about football... the stadium, the seat licenses, capital campaigns and raising dollars for the push for football at Charlotte. With today's meeting and information about football, I'm going in a different direction (maybe to the chagrin of people doing google searches and coming up with this blog post - sorry, but please read on).

The Dig Pink fundraiser is a good cause. The volleyball program is raising money for breast cancer research and awareness. The Charlotte 49ers started this now-national campaign earlier this decade under former head coach Lisa Marston. In 2003, Marston set up the idea by tying monetary pledges to digs in a volleyball match. It was a good plan, particularly because volleyball plays its main conference season mainly in October, which is national Breast Cancer Awareness month. It's a natural fit, women in sports and awareness for a primarily a women's disease that affects so many people.

Marston's mother was a breast cancer survivor (full disclosure - mine is too) and her idea was to tie the defensive statistic, the dig, to money raised. People pledge an amount to a dig in the match and get the payouts on the back end after the match is completed. Money raised was given to the Charlotte chapter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the same folks who do "Race for the Cure" and "Walk for the Cure." Marston called the program "Dig for the Cure."

The idea was great on many levels. Most significant for me was the fact that the dig is a volleyball defensive stat where a player attempts to keep an opponent from successfully completing a kill by "digging" a ball from hitting the court. In a sense, the defensive player "keeps the ball alive" so her teammates can set up an offensive score. The parallels are brilliant. Each dig in the match keeps alive the hope that raising money will lead to a cure for breast cancer. Teams now wear special pink jerseys to commemorate the event.

The idea of the program caught on with Conference USA teams (Charlotte's conference affiliation at the time) and programs around the country. Marston worked tirelessly behind the scenes to get more and more programs interested and involved.

In 2007, Chris Redding came to coach the Niners following Marston's departure to be a mom and devote more time to her children and family. Redding knew of the program from his days as an assistant at Alabama and made sure the tradition continued. Marston still works to keep programs around the country participating and gives them support to help raise money for the now national cause.

This season, the programs moved to "Dig Pink" as a national charitable foundation "Side-Out Foundation" was established to help put raised money to the places that it can do the most good.

There are several new programs and ideas that are being implemented in the athletics department at Charlotte to help raise money for this cause, which we will publicize on the Web site in the coming days. Spurned on by an idea by Donna Bialosky in the Athletic Academic Center, the 49ers wore their pink jerseys and headed out to the tailgaters at the season-opening Carolina Panthers game on September 13 around Bank of America Stadium. They went out early Sunday and talked up their cause. The Panthers and Eagles fans, with spirits high for a new season and in a giving mood, donated a collective $1,400 to our ladies for the "Dig Pink" match. And it should be pointed out that Eagles fans were as a giving as Panthers fans.

As more programs are announced, please participate. Some ideas are as easy a "Penny War" where you could donate the pennies in your pockets, purse, couch and car (just to name a few places) to help toward the cause. If you have any questions or ideas for this great cause, you can contact assistant coach Casey Harris at or ask her how you can donate your time or money to this effort. Any contribution is a good one that will be put to a good use.

This year, Charlotte's Dig Pink match will be on Friday, October 2 in their conference home opener against Fordham at 7 p.m. Come on out and see the most pink in one place at one time. It's a feast for the eyes that's a great cause for women everywhere.

--Ryan Rose
Media Relations Office

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

UNC Charlotte Graduates Amongst 49ers Coaching Staff

This weekend (September 18 and 20), the Charlotte 49ers men’s soccer team is hosting the four-team Charlotte Nike Invitational at Transamerica Field. The 49ers will face California State University-Bakersfield in their first Invitational game this Friday, September 18 at 7:30 pm. 49ers head men’s soccer coach Jeremy Gunn and assistant coach Kyle Gookins are both former soccer players as well as graduates of CSU-Bakersfield. This got me thinking about UNC Charlotte graduates that are currently coaches at Charlotte.

Head men’s basketball coach Bobby Lutz, who is entering his 12th season at Charlotte, is a 1980 UNC Charlotte graduate. Lutz, who tried out for the men’s basketball team as a student, is the program’s all-time winningest coach with 199 victories. Assistant men’s basketball coach Bobby Kummer (pictured), who is in his seventh season on the 49ers coaching staff, is a 1996 UNC Charlotte graduate. Kummer, was a two-time team captain, was named the Metro Conference Male Academic Student-Athlete of the Year in 1995. He helped the 49ers win the 1995 Metro Conference Championship to reach the NCAA Tournament. He also played on the 49ers 1994 NIT team.

The 49ers women’s soccer head coach John Cullen (pictured), who is in his first season at Charlotte, is a 1993 UNC Charlotte graduate. Cullen was a member of the 49ers men’s soccer team’s first NCAA Tournament team in 1991. He was a team captain on the 49ers 1992 NCAA Tournament team. Returning to the 49ers women’s soccer coaching staff this season is assistant coach Sarah Denton, who is a 2001 UNC Charlotte graduate. Denton earned second-team All-Conference USA honors as a senior in 2000. As a two-time team captain, Denton helped the 49ers capture the 1998 C-USA Tournament title and earn the program’s first-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Cross country head coach and assistant track and field coach Ed Schlichter (pictured), is in his first season as a head coach at Charlotte, is a 2005 UNC Charlotte graduate. He had a standout career with the 49ers and ranks among the program’s all-time top 10 in several distance categories. He was a seven-time All-Conference selection, earning five awards in track and two in cross country. In 2004, he became the first runner in school history to be named Conference USA Male Athlete of the Year for cross country.

Several of the 49ers programs have assistant coaches that are UNC Charlotte graduates. Assistant women’s basketball coach Krystion Obie Nelson, who is in her third season on the 49ers coaching staff, is a 2005 UNC Charlotte graduate. Obie Nelson helped the 49ers win 81 games and claim two league titles and reach postseason play four times during her playing career at Charlotte earlier this decade. Women’s Basketball’s Director of Operations Sabrina Gregory, who is in her second season on the 49ers staff, is a 2008 UNC Charlotte graduate. She was a two-time All-Atlantic 10 selection who finished her career with 1,286 career points. Assistant baseball coach Kris Rochelle, who is in his first year as a member of the 49ers coaching staff, is a 2007 UNC Charlotte graduate. Rochelle became the seventh player in school history to hit over .400 for a season after leading the Atlantic 10 with the .404 average in 2007. Softball assistant coach Kristi Killough (pictured), who is in her second season as a member of the 49ers coaching staff, is a 2007 UNC Charlotte graduate. Killough was a first-team All-Atlantic 10 selection who finished her career as the 49ers all-time leader in home runs with 20 career round trippers. Assistant golf coach Andrew DiBitetto, who is in his first season as an assistant coach at Charlotte, is a 2008 UNC Charlotte graduate. DiBitetto, who earned all-conference honors three times, earned All-American honors as well as being named A-10 Golf Student-Athlete of the Year.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Federer goes for 16, Boykin offers analysis

With Rodger Federer on the cusp of winning his 16th grand slam title, this time at the US Open, I thought it would be appropriate to ask someone who knows tennis a little better then I do to try and analyze how ‘Rod-ga’ is able to continually perform at such a high level.

Charlotte head tennis coach Jim Boykin took a few minutes to talk over the phone about Federer’s dominance before sneaking out of work early to watch the men’s final. No worries Jim I won’t tell Judy. I am going to try and do the same thing.

“I think Rodger has proved time and time again that you can’t win a grand slam without going through him,” Coach Boykin explained. “What is more impressive to me is that semifinal record he has.”

Coach referring to Federer’s 22 consecutive grand slam semifinal appearances.

“People need to understand how hard it is to make just one Grand Slam quarterfinal, so many things need to go your way. It just tells you how good he (Federer) is,” said Boykin.

Some numbers for you, Federer is looking for his…
41, straight win in Flushing Meadows.
6, consecutive US Open titles
21, Grand Slam finals.
2, now proud dad of twin girls

Asked to describe Federer’s game Boykin exclaimed, “He’s smooth. Style is perfect. He’s got a one-handed backhand, serving harder and is the perfect size, not too big, able to move well, nice touch and he keeps his head straight.”

Well that pretty much sums it up. But how did he hit this shot?

Boykin’s reaction to that shot? A simple chuckle.

“That ball was perfectly hit.”

Coach’s prediction for today? As if I needed to ask.

“Federer in four sets. It should be a good match, but Federer is up to power with Del Potro.”

Federer will never be as popular in America as Lebron or Kobe or Tiger. However, from a sheer sports standpoint I’d be willing to argue he’s better at tennis then Tiger is at golf or Lebron is at basketball. I will be watching today. Cheering for Federer. Cheering for greatness. Is he the greatest of all time? Almost impossible to say. For my own sanity he needs to beat Nadal in a Grand Slam final again. That may never happen, but odds are it won't be because Rodger wasn't there.

Friday, September 11, 2009

College Football Is Awesome

I’m going to make this week’s edition of my blog short and sweet: College Football is awesome. Last weekend was the opening of the college football season and I will admit I watched more than two full work days worth of football. Stretching from NC State-USC on Thursday all the way to Monday’s Miami-FSU intense rivalry (Game of the Opening Weekend), I was enthralled by the hard-hits, offensive production and my Wildcats winning, 42-0.

I can’t get enough of pigskin action the only thing in sports that can surpass watching college football on television during the fall months is actually attending a home game. Tailgating, playing football in the stadium’s parking lot, leading your team’s favorite cheer or fight song and carousing with your fellow fans is top-notch fun to say the least and I haven’t even started on the delicious treats involved with grilling.

The problem to this story is obviously that I am over six hours away from my alma mater and can’t afford or make the time in my busy schedule to travel for a home football game. Alas, there lies a solution I could attend a football game at my employer, Charlotte 49ers.

When the second-annual tailgate and football rally was held two weekends ago I attended and was amazed by Charlotte fans that gathered for a football team that has yet to be formed. People were grilling, playing football on the intramural fields and chanting FORTY-NINERS, left and right. It was a great escape to be around a passionate fan-base that is desperate for football.

I’m not trying to be preachy here but football is something that has to happen at Charlotte. Football draws a fan-base together and can draw national attention to not only an athletic department but also a university.

It’s pretty obvious where I’m going with this one. Niner Nation needs to get out there and promote the sales of FSLs so Charlotte can have a football team in 2013. Tell your friends, family, fellow alums, neighbors and whoever you think of about it. Your selling point could be “College Football is Awesome” or you could more creative than myself and give some more selling points.

Until football comes to Charlotte’s campus I will be forced to sit in my apartment and watch hours and hours of college football in front of my HD tv. Let me tell you that just is not the same as watching a game live with thousands of your closest friends and fellow fans in a stadium alongside you.

-- Patrick McCoy, 49ers Media Relations --

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What's in a Name?

As you enter Halton Arena this weekend to see the volleyball team play in the Comfort Suites 49er Invitational, you may the game program helpful for identifying the players by their jersey number, but you may have trouble figuring out who is talking to whom on the court.

That’s because the team has a special way that they communicate. They all have nicknames. Here is your primer for understanding what is going on if Finn talks to Binks and Pee-Wee during a timeout…

Team Member (Nickname)

Head coach Chris Redding (Finn)
Assistant coach Jay Correll (Bubba)
Assistant coach Casey Harris (Spud)
Assistant coach Chad Esposito (Philsy)
Senior co-captain Kaitlin Knight (KK)
Senior co-captain Jenn Webb (Webb)
Senior Priscilla Barbanell (Pris or P)
Redshirt junior Kathleen Hicks (Kat or Kitty Kat)
Junior Kara Raker (Solo)
Sophomore Leah Leventhal (Lee-Lee)
Sophomore Sheri Davis (Budwyn)
Sophomore Abbie Rees (Pee-Wee)
Freshman Jenna Litoborski (Jet Ski)
Freshman Shannon McClean (Smack)
Freshman Bianca Rouse (Binks)
Freshman Kalan Thompson (Lando)
Freshman Lily Vera (Mo)

Don’t forget that Friday night is Beach Night. This was Charlotte’s second-most attended match in two seasons. Even though Labor Day weekend is traditionally known as the “official end of summer,” fans kept out their beachwear from storage for one more weekend last year. There will be giveaways and prizes at the event on Friday night. The Niners defeated Howard 3-1 on Beach Night in 2008.

Charlotte is 15-9 at home under Redding in his previous two seasons at Charlotte.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Charlotte 49ers Athletics Exemplifies the Phrase Student-Athletes With 31 Academic All-Americans

A student athlete is defined as a participant in an organized competitive sport sponsored by the educational institution in which he or she is enrolled. The term student-athlete is used to describe the direct balance of a full-time student and a full-time athlete. The Charlotte 49ers athletic department has done a very good of keeping the balance proportional between being a student and an athlete as 31 Charlotte 49ers student-Athletes have earned Academic All-American honors. This decade the 49ers have had 22 Academic All-Americans. Numerous 49ers student-athletes have been named to various conference honor rolls as well as the University’s Chancellor’s, Dean’s and Athletic Director’s lists over the past 24 years.

Every year, CoSIDA (Collegiate Sports Information Director’s of America) sponsors the prestigious ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American program. The 49ers have had 31 student-athletes named Academic All-American since 1985. The 49ers women’s soccer program is fourth in the history of the Academic All-American program with the most all-time ESPN The Magazine Academic All-Americans with eight. While, the women’s track and field and cross country program is tied for ninth in the country with the most all-time ESPN The Magazine Academic All-Americans with seven.
Former 49ers women’s tennis player was the 49ers first Academic All-American in 1985. In the 80’s, former 49ers baseball player Steve Wagoner became the school’s first two-time Academic All-American in 1986 and 1987. Former 49ers men’s soccer player Craig Brown (pictured) was the school’s first first-team Academic All-American in 1986.

In the 1990’s, men’s tennis player Christopher Mark (1992 and 1993) and men’s soccer player Jim Kunevicius (1997 and 1998) were both two-time Academic All-Americans. Kunevicius (pictured) became the 49ers second first-team Academic All-American in 1998. Former softball player Tiffany Howard became the softball program’s first Academic All-American in 1998.

This decade, the 49ers have had 22 Academic All-Americans. In 2001, Karin Levin became Charlotte’s first track and field athlete to earn Academic All-American honors. In 2002, Ola Jonsson became the first 49er men’s tennis player to earn first-team Academic All-American honors. In that same year, Jobey Thomas became the first 49ers men’s basketball player to earn Academic All-American honors. In 2003, former 49ers women’s soccer player Lindsay Duncan became the first Charlotte women’s soccer player Academic All-American. In 2004, Sharonda Johnson (pictured) was selected to her first of three Academic All-American teams. In 2005, Lindsey Beam Ozimek (pictured) was named to the first of her three Academic All-American teams. Ozimek joins Johnson and the school’s only three-time Academic All-Americans. In 2006, the 49ers had a school-record six Academic All-Americans. The women’s soccer program had three (Ozimek, Kelsie Ormsby and Nikki Labuda Czaplicki), while the women’s track and field team has two in (Johnson and Cassie Ficken). Czaplicki would earn first-team Academic All-American honors as a fifth-year senior in 2008 as well. Former 49ers baseball player Mike Ambrose rounded out Charlotte’s six Academic All-Americans in 2006. In 2007, Ozimek and Johnson were joined by former 49ers women’s track and field runner Jane Daniels as Academic All-Americans. Daniels and Ozimek were both first-team Academic All-Americans. In 2008, former 49ers golfer Jonas Enander Hedin became the golf program’s first Academic All-American. While, Hailey Beam, a second-team Academic All-American, joined her sister Lindsey Ozimek as the athletic department’s first Academic All-American siblings. Men’s soccer’s Adam Gross, women’s soccer’s Czaplicki and women’s track and field performer Lamarra Currie rounded out the 49ers 2008 Academic All-Americans. Currie would join Ozimek as the 49ers only two-time first-team Academic All-Americans after she earned first-team honors in 2008 and 2009. In 2009, Darius Law became the men’s track and field program’s first Academic All-American.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Video at -- Check Out What You've Been Missing

I implore you -- if you have not already done so -- please check out the numerous video options online at You'll be glad you did. The video content that the 49ers now produce is entertaining, informative -- and really well done -- and it includes LIVE broadcasts of just about every home athletic event. In fact, last year, we produced a live broadcast of the 49ers home cross country meet as well as the first-ever broadcast of the A-10 cross country championship.

"Panning For Gold" is a new 15-minute TV show, hosted by Media Production Coordinator AJ Mead. It includes "The Beat" headline section, a feature and an interview with a 49ers student-athlete, coach or staff member. It airs weekly in the video window on the front page of the website, features Mead's unique on-camera stylings and is absolutely free.

In addition, "The 49ers Insider" returns this month with a new format designed to bring additional information to you. Still hosted by a different student-athlete each episode, The Insider is now a monthly show that includes three in-depth features. The features could focus on a developing story withing the athletic department, a particular student-athlete or coach or another aspect of the 49ers program.

These two shows will be paired together in a half hour block on the university's TV station (Time Warner Cable Ch. 22 in Mecklenburg County), Thurs. and Sat. at 12:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and links will also be available at

In addition to these two shows, the 49ers produce a grand mass of additional video content. Weekly coaches interviews, "End of the Bench" Q&A's with student-athletes, The Week Ahead and The Weekend Report highlight packages as well as a variety of other features, season previews and reviews and commentary. All of that can be seen in the front page video window as well as in the Niner Network All-Access player.

Take some time, browse through the offerings in the video player. Just click on the Niner Network All-Access button at the top of the Catch an "End of the Bench" with your favorite player, follow your team through the coaches interviews or watch archived game broadcasts.

Or watch Live broadcasts.

As I said, the 49ers produce live broadcasts of just about every home event -- and all of them can be seen through the Niner Network All-Access package. You can link to the broadcasts from the game schedules, the calendar or by going directly to the Niner Network all-Access Player.

The game broadcasts have been upgraded, this year. For selected broadcasts, the 49ers are able to provide multi-camera productions complete with graphics and scoreboards. The professional look is enhanced by a "Star Watch" look at two players to watch, an ever-present scoreboard, and commercials during breaks.

Again. Check it out. The 49ers are trying to get more and more video content on the site. We really think you'll enjoy what you see and we welcome any and all feedback.

Tom Whitestone
Charlotte 49ers Assoc. A.D. for Media Relations

Monday, September 7, 2009

Niner Nation Has A Horse To Cheer For...

Happy Labor Day everyone.

I am in the minority here, but I love horse racing. I spent many of my teenage years with a pack of buddies traveling between Monmouth Park and the OTW (Off-Track Wagering) parlors scanning the racing forms, smoking fine cigars and hitting the late pick-4.

Now that I live in Charlotte, keeping up with the sport I love couldn’t be more difficult. I can’t even setup an online betting account in the state of North Carolina.

I digress, scanning through the racing form for this afternoons racingcard at Del Mar, it’s a synthetic racetrack out in California, on my day off from work I most certainly found a winner.

In the second race, a maiden for 2-year old fillies at one mile called ‘Forever Young’. If you don’t understand horse lingo it’s a race for 2-year old girls who haven’t won yet. For many of these horses, it's their first race ever. I spot a lock. A must-win.

The six horse. Her name is Saint Isabelle. (Pic right-->) What a beautiful creature! She is making her 2nd start in horse racing today and she has horse handicappers buzzing. She finished 4th last time out. But you ask, why is this on Touch of Green? Give me a second…

When handicapping a race (picking a horse) many factors go into selection. Workout times, pace, track conditions and pedigree just to name a few. Lets focus on the latter.

Saint Isabelle’s dad was Saint Liam, a horse I grew up watching. Unfortunately, I always bet against him. But I don’t hold a grudge. Notice I say ‘was’, Saint Liam tragically died from a barn accident in 2007. Fortunately for horse fans, he has close to 150 babies that will be hitting the track shortly.

Saint Isabelle’s mom is Fortyniner Fever. YES! Fortyniner Fever! She has no racing background. Never touched the track, but she is the granddaughter of a champion race horse Forty Niner. Time for a history lesson…

Back in the ‘80s, the race horse Forty Niner (pic left <---) was the man. Lost the Kentucky Derby by a neck to a girl! (check video) in 1988. Went on to win the Grade 1 Travers and Haskell later that season. He sired (was the daddy) of great race horses including Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide and Belmont Stakes winner Editor’s Note. Makes me proud to be a 49er! I adopt him to be our unofficial mascot! He is still alive, currently resides in Japan. And yes, he's done making babies.

What a race!

Saint Isabelle’s morning line odds are set at 5-1 and she is being ridden by Joe Talamo (If you watch ‘Jockeys’ on Animal Planet you know Joe Talamo). Post time set for 5:30pm eastern time. I will be watching and provide updates on the results. I have confidence she will make granddaddy proud as well as every 49er here in Charlotte!

UPDATE: Saint Isabelle set the early pace, led throughout, but weakened down the stretch, still hung on for 4th.

Friday, September 4, 2009

We're Going Streaking!!!

What is a streak? The handy online website known as defines a streak as ‘an unbroken series, as of wins or loses,’ while that definition may work for some I define a streak as a ‘ridiculously long repeated occurrence of an event.’

Some of the top streaks in sports are ones that will never be broken and are simply put, amazing. For example, the Iron Man, Cal Ripken Jr. played in 2,632 consecutive games from 1982 to 1998, which is the best streak of all-time in my opinion. Then you have Joe Dimaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, Oklahoma Sooners Football winning 47 games in a row (Buy Your FSLS Now!) and my favorite the University of Kentucky’s Basketball (My alma mater) 129 game home winning-streak stretching from 1943-55.

You may ask what does this have to do with Charlotte athletics and the answer is a lot because three current teams are putting up some pretty impressive numbers against their A-10 opponents.

Starting off for the Niners is the Men’s Golf team, which has won four-straight Atlantic 10 Titles and made an appearance in the NCAA Championship five straight years. Since 2006, the 49ers have claimed the conference title by an average of 11 strokes with its largest margin coming in 2008 by a 28-stroke victory. Not too shabby.

Moving along to our next team would be the women’s track and field squad. Since joining the A-10 in 2006, Charlotte’s women have won every single championship both indoor and outdoor against their A-10 counterparts. The complete utter domination of the A-10 is astounding as the women have racked up eight titles. Well done.

Finally we have a team that is currently in action with the women’s soccer squad. The team is in the midst of a 12-match home winning streak that dates back to 2007, when I was still in college (Dang I’m getting old.) Not only have the women won at home but they also haven’t lost a regular season game in their last 14 matches and have won 16-straight A-10 matches, which includes tournament play. I applaud that trio of streaks.

Also for those of you basketball nuts here is a basketball tidbit: Both of the basketball teams have put up winning streaks that have dated for at least three years: the women’s bball team won 22 games from 2005-07 when their streak came to an end against #8 George Washington, while the men’s roundball squad won 61 straight games at home from 1973-77 as Charlotte greats Cedric Maxwell and Melvin Watkins never lost a game at home during their career.

That’s it for today’s lesson on streaks and make sure to come out to Transamerica Field this weekend as the women’s soccer team will look to extend their home winning streak and regular season winning streak with games against Francis Marion (Today, 7 p.m.) and Villanova (Sunday, 1 p.m.).

-- Patrick McCoy, 49ers Media Relations --

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I Was There When...

There’s a distinct difference between joining something that has a long and strong tradition and being in on the ground floor of something new and being a part of its growth.

If you are a long-time Charlottean, you have had the chance to do the latter twice (three times, if you count the NBA twice… more on that in a moment).

My family moved to Concord, the town immediately North of the Queen City in 1983. I left town after college for my job, but had the chance to come back home (read: Coming Home entry from August) and be a part of the Charlotte 49ers, which was an easy decision for me.

Having grown up in this area (yes, I call myself a Charlottean), I have been in on the ground floor of some really cool beginnings that I could claim ownership of.

In 1988, the Charlotte Hornets began play in the NBA. I remember my dad taking me to some games each year in those days, getting to see the likes of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson in person. In the early days, we did go to see the visitors because they were established names, but we kept close tabs on the Hornets and how they played and performed for the city. Once the draft picks came in, those were “our guys.” I’m talking about Rex Chapman and J.R. Reid and Kendal Gill in the early days, but later, Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning came to town and the team really took off. And I kept going to a couple of games a year.

Once I got into the television business a little, I got to run camera in the arena under the basket and see those guys up close. I was hooked by that point. The Hornets were on NBC with regularity and I was old enough to work on my own and buy my own tickets to games and go with my friends.

By that time, the NFL had joined the Queen City, when the Carolina Panthers started playing at Clemson in 1995. The franchise was awarded to Charlotte and the Carolinas in October of 1993. I could not wait until they started because I could now be a diehard fan of another team where I could drive less than 30 minutes to go see.

I remember having a friend who was going to college in Atlanta at the time and she got us a pair of tickets to the game so I drove down I-85 and went to the first regular-season game in team history in Atlanta (and was surprised and thrilled that they went to at least overtime, even though they lost.) I still have the commemorative items from that game, and I have many a ticket stub, autographed ball and player cards and programs from Hornets and Panthers events through the years. Once I went to the first game, I became a lifetime fan. I don’t know any Steelers, Cowboys, Packers or Falcons fans that went to their first game and have been a fan since.

I should admit that I was sad to see the Hornets go and I don’t feel that same ownership in the Charlotte Bobcats. I have nothing against the newer franchise, but it just doesn’t feel like my team (I did not live in the Charlotte area when they were established) and I have not followed this group as closely as I did the Hornets. (Full disclosure: I have not been in the arena for a Bobcats game in their five seasons of play.) I do hope that some younger fans out there can treat them as I did the Hornets in their early days and have something that they believe in and take some ownership in.

Switching allegiances can be a tough thing to do, particularly if you grew up in or near a city that has an established team. Plenty of people (I would love to know actual numbers on this) will root for the best team at that time when they first get into a sport. I liked the Pittsburgh Steelers when I was younger and my younger brother was a Philadelphia Eagles fan, even though we never lived in or near Pennsylvania. The Steelers were great in the 70’s when I was a young man and the Eagles were in their prime in the early 80’s when my brother was old enough to follow. And a lot of fans get their team from their parents. I look forward to passing my Panthers down to my kids.

Getting a team in your hometown or near where you live can be a real thrill. I grew up a basketball fan, but not an NBA fan, and I was converted quickly. You can have two favorite teams, but I guarantee that the local team will pull you in (assuming you didn’t grow up in another team’s town and love them since childhood fervently).

That is what I am hoping for with the Charlotte 49ers and the push for football. I am hoping that both kinds of fans come aboard for this team. I want fans of other college teams to check out the experience here and casually follow this team and let the experience pull those fans in. You cannot have gone to the first N.C. State game or the first South Carolina or Clemson or Wake Forest games. You can go to the first game at Charlotte. I also want local folks without a team or just a passing interest to come in on the ground floor of a lifetime of memories and experiences. Once you go to the first game, it’s your team. And it’s in your town (or near enough).

--Ryan Rose
Media Relations

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Mighty Charlotte Dynamic Duos

When one hears the words Dynamic Duo, a majority of people would think of comic book action heroes Batman and Robin. They are not the only cultural Dynamic Duos there are the legendary comedic teams of Laurel and Hardy and Abbott and Costello. In more recent times, there are the cinema dynamic duos of Dr. Brown and Marty McFly from the Back to the Future Trilogy, Frodo and Sam from the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in Good Will Hunting. Recently, we have heard a great deal about the tabloid duo of Jon and Kate Gosselin. The sporting world has had many great dynamic duos as well whether it is Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen with the Chicago Bulls or Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal with the Los Angeles Lakers. In the NFL, there was Joe Montana and Jerry Rice with the San Francisco 49ers and at times they were not so dynamic but the duo with the Dallas Cowboys of Tony Romo and Terrell Owens. The Arizona Diamondbacks won the World Series behind the dynamic duo of pitchers Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson.

This decade, the Charlotte 49ers have had several dynamic duos which have lead their particular programs to great deal of success. In 2006, the volleyball program had Eden Ramos and Carly Romberg move into the program’s single-season records list. Ramos set the school-record for assists, while Romberg recorded the sixth highest single-season digs total. Romberg would set the school single-season digs record in 2007 and then break her own record in 2008. The men’s soccer program had the scoring duo of Adam Ruud and Floyd Franks who both earned first-team all-conference honors in 2004 and 2005. The cross country program currently has Adu Dentamo and Amanda Goetschius. Dentamo captured the 2008 A-10 Men’s Championship and Goetschius claimed
the 2008 A-10 Women’s Championship. The women’s basketball program had Sakellie Daniels and Pam Brown who both earned first-team All-Atlantic 10 honors after leading the 49ers to a share of the A-10 regular season title in 2006. In 2005, the men’s basketball program had Eddie Basden, the Conference USA Player of the Year, and Curtis Withers, who earned first-team All-Conference USA honors, lead the 49ers into the national rankings and the NCAA Tournament. In 2001, the men’s tennis program had All-Conference USA selections number one singles player Ola Jonsson and number two singles player Jacob Nordwall who helped the 49ers earn their highest-ever ITA national ranking. Last season, the women’s tennis’ doubles team of Koren Fleming and Gabi Vergara recorded a school-record 26-10 mark. In 2007, the 49ers baseball program won a school-record 49 games behind the pitching duo of All-American Adam Mills and fellow first-team All-Atlantic 10 selection Spencer Steedley. In 2007, the golf team finished third in the NCAA Championships behind the play of All-Atlantic 10 selections Matt Mincer and Andrew DiBitetto. Mincer and DiBitetto finished one and two respectively in the A-10 Championships that season. The track and field program has had two dynamic duos this decade. The men’s team had

A-10 Champion sprinters Darius Law and Jason Moore in 2008. Moore captured the 55 meters and 200 meters titles at the Indoor Championships. While, Law captured the 2008 400 meters Indoor Championship. Law also captured the 2008 Outdoor 200 and 400 meters titles. While, the women’s track and field program had the duo of Shareese Woods and Sharonda Johnson in 2007. Johnson was an All-American in the Indoor Triple Jump and Woods was an All-American in the Indoor and Outdoor 200 meters that year. In 2005, the softball program won a school-record 42 games and captured the program’s first-ever A-10 regular-season title behind the dynamic pitching duo of Kristen Bowen and Christy Murray.

Currently, the 49ers women’s soccer program has the dynamic duo of senior midfielder Hailey Beam and junior forward Whitney Weinraub. Over the past two seasons, the 49ers women’s soccer program has posted a 34-9-2 record while claiming two A-10 regular season and two A-10 Tournament titles en route to two NCAA Tournament appearances. During that stretch, Beam and Weinraub have combined for 39 goals and 30 assists. Last season, Beam became the program’s first consensus All-American while earning A-10 Midfielder of the Year and A-10 Tournament MVP honors. In 2008, Weinraub became the first player in the program’s history to be named A-10 Offensive Player of the Year. This season, the dynamic duo has picked up right where they left off as Weinraub has scored two game-winning goals and Beam has recorded a goal and an assist in helping the 49ers jump off to a 2-0 start.

This fall, 49ers fans will be able to catch the women’s soccer dynamic duo of Beam and Weinraub and the cross country dynamic duo of Dentamo and Goetschius in action.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Men's Soccer at Graveyard

The stage was set. Over 3500 fans were in attendance. Both teams were unbeaten in Metro Conference play. South Carolina was ranked #1 in the country. They'd won 16 straight games. Charlotte was ranked #12 and had enjoyed a 12-game win streak that had carried them into the top 10. It was Nov. 6, 1994 -- and it was arguably the greatest regular-season performance in 49ers history.

The Gamecocks were 16-2 overall, ranked #1 and playing at home, in the appropriately named "Graveyard" -- where visiting teams went to die.

The game had star power: Charlotte all-America Mac Cozier (pictured with Metro Championship trophy after the game). South Carolina all-America Clint Mathis.

And as the last conference game of the year, it was for all the marbles. Conference Championship at stake. NCAA Tournament berth at stake. The game had everything you could want.

Mathis scored first, posting the Gamecocks to a 1-0 lead midway through the first half. The 49ers were able to answer with an important goal just before halftime when Chan Roush headed in Brian Wilson's cross with under two minutes to play.

Midway through the second half Charlotte's Matthys Barker nailed a header towards an empty net -- forcing South Carolina defender Sigmar Scheving to make the hand save -- earning an automatic ejection and giving the 49ers a penalty kick. Calm, cool and collected midfielder Randy Sheen converted the PK to put Charlotte up 2-1 at 66:22. Just over three minutes later, the 49ers banged home the dagger.

Cozier, as he had so many times in his career, broke free past one defender and fed a low pass to Dan Westwater in front of the goal. Westwater, solidly, knocked it into the back corner. 3-1. Ballgame.

I still have that photo outside my office. Westwater running away from the goal, hands raised. Ball bouncing in the back of the net. Mathis headed dropped. Crowd of 3552 hushed, save for the many 49ers fans that made the trip.

Tonight, the 49ers head to South Carolina. It's early in the season and the two teams are no longer conference foes. But for those who know their history -- this game is big. And for the 49ers, who returned to the national rankings last year, this game is a chance to give those championship aspirations wings, once again.

I remember it like it was yesterday. And it's good to have that same fire burning.