Colby Lewis participates in the skills contest, circa 2012. Photo by Chris Crews

Four years ago Colby Lewis could be found on the sidelines of Halton Arena at every men’s basketball game. He can still be found on the Charlotte bench today, just in different attire.

Lewis started his time with the 49ers in 2009 when he came in as a freshman guard. During his time as a player in the Queen City, he was a two-time recipient of the Charles Hayward award – an honor given to the athlete that best demonstrates leadership, work ethic and teamwork.

In his senior season with the Niners, Lewis and his teammates won 21 games, won the Great Alaska Shootout title and made the 49ers latest appearance in the NIT.

The Statesville, North Carolina native was also successful off the court, getting a degree in business while also finding his now-fiance, Ginny Johnson. The two met their sophomore years throughout athletics as Johnson was on the tennis team.

“It was the best four years of my life. I know everyone says that, but it’s really true,” Lewis said. “I got some really good friends out of it. For me it was really cool off the court too.”

After completing his business degree in three and a half years, Lewis began his masters at Charlotte. His four years of player eligibility had expired, so Lewis stayed with the 49ers in the form of a graduate assistant. Having played with the team prior to switching to a coaching role benefited Lewis.

“I had enough respect from the guys I played with that they were going to listen to what I was going to say,” Lewis said. “The guys knew what I was like as a teammate and that meant when I transitioned to the next role they knew they could trust me.”

His stint as a graduate assistant lasted one year, then doors were opened for Lewis to become the Director of Operations for the 49ers.

“It all fell into place,” Lewis said. “I didn’t know if I was going to go somewhere else and try to get a support staff role or if I had to go somewhere else and try to be a grad assistant again. At that time the director of operations position opened up here and coach (Alan Major) kept me on as that.”

Colby Lewis looks over notes on the bench. Photo by Chris Crews

As Director of Operations Lewis was able to see the more business and organizational side of the game.

Major stepped down from the Charlotte basketball program in the Spring of 2015, beginning the Mark Price era. With new coaching staff, Lewis wasn’t sure if he would still have a spot on staff.

“You never know with coaching changes if you’ll stay or not. It was a real blessing to be able to stay here with Coach Price,” Lewis said.

Under Price, Lewis became the video coordinator, where he is in charge of advanced scouting of the Charlotte opponents and breaking down the 49ers’ game film.

With his knowledge of the Charlotte campus and surrounding area, Lewis was a crucial part of making the transition in coaches as smooth as possible.

“When they got here we immediately had kids coming on campus for recruiting visits. I was able to help out with a lot of different things they needed help with. It was a chance for me to prove to them that I was going to work hard and that they could trust me to get something done,” Lewis said.

In his time on campus a lot has changed. When Lewis was a freshman the location of the football stadium was used as the rec fields and the student union was not even a year old. While his future is uncertain, Charlotte will always remain a special place for Lewis.

“With this job you never know what’s going to happen,” Lewis said. “Ultimately my goal is to be a coach. It would be a dream come true if I could do it here, this place is really special to me. I try not to think too far ahead, I want to focus on right now and what I can do to make this team the best it can be.”

Kathleen Cook is the sports editor of the Niner Times and from Wake Forest, North Carolina. When the junior communication major/journalism minor isn't covering the 49ers, she enjoys spending time with her family, friend, and dog. Kathleen can also be found cheering on the Panthers every Sunday and rooting for the Washington Nationals.