A roaring applause is heard as the Charlotte 49ers men’s basketball team exits the tunnel onto Halton Arena’s hardwood court. Head Basketball Manager Matthew Sholtis glances into the crowd and sees new and familiar faces as he walks into his final Basketball Madness as an undergraduate.
The Apex, N.C. native is a senior at UNC Charlotte and has been a part of Charlotte’s men’s basketball program since his freshman year. The men’s basketball team’s season is around the corner, and Sholtis is eager to contribute and witness it unfold, game by game.
“I’m just looking forward to us getting better every day. We got a brand new staff [and] a lot of new players. We’re just taking it one day at a time, we’re not looking forward to the season at all right now. We’re trying to win tomorrow’s practice, and I’m just looking forward to learning everything I can from this coaching staff. [I’m] just trying to take it all in as my last year,” said Sholtis.
He’s been there to take in the standing ovations from the fans, coaches’ half-time speeches, the opposing team’s fans heckling, the shot clock buzzers, the announcers’ play-by-play and the persistent blowing of the referee’s whistle. Sholtis has taken in a lot in his three years with the team, but that’s why he loves being a part of it every season and it’s what he’ll miss the most.
“Just every day, coming in, hanging around the coaches, setting up for practice [and] hanging with the other managers that I’ve created some great friendships with. People call it the dirty work, but I love doing it. Rebounding for the guys, doing laundry…it’s just great to be a part of the program. It’s the best job a college student could ever have.” said Sholtis.
Sholtis won’t miss it too much though, considering he’ll be back next season in a different role with the team.
“I was lucky enough for Coach Sanchez to offer me a graduate assistant position, so I’m going to be a GA for the next two years and get my graduate degree. After that, I plan on going into coaching, so in those two years I’m gonna try to learn as much as I can.” said Sholtis.
Sholtis has already learned and observed a lot from Coach Ron Sanchez.
“The intensity level in practice is on another level. He comes from Virginia and they’re one of the best teams in the country. He knows how not only to run a program, but [to] rebuild a program, because he did it at Virginia [and] he did it at Washington State. He forms great relationships with all of our guys, down to all of the players [and] the managers. He always says come into the office, talk to us whenever you want,” said Sholtis. “He has a great relationship with everybody, and that’s one of the biggest things you can have as a head coach. People might think it’s all X’s and O’s, but it’s a lot more than that, so that’s what I learned from him.”
Sholtis takes every game in stride. He doesn’t predict the future, especially concerning the season.
“I don’t like to make predictions, I just kind of like to go with the flow. Like I said earlier, take it one game at a time. Just improve from the beginning of the season to the end of the season, that’s the only thing we can ask for. The one thing coach says every day at practice is that he’s not going to coach effort and he doesn’t have to because our guys give one-hundred percent every day, which is all you can ask for as a coach, and that’s what you want from a team, so we’re going to see where it goes from there.” said Sholtis.
One player in particular that has seen the maturation of Sholtis as a person and manager is 49er point guard Jon Davis.
“Matt’s my guy, outside Matt and Adam, those are really the only two guys that’s been here all four years, and Ryan Parr. Matt’s cool, Matt’s going to be one of my lifelong friends. He’s one of those guys that you meet and just sticks as a friend. He and I have a good relationship outside of basketball and he’s just become one of my best friends,” said Davis.
The camaraderie between Sholtis and Davis exists because of Sholtis’ commitment to the team and its players.
“I always put in a lot of hours. I get here at 6:45 [a.m.] rebounding for our players. [I] try to slip a work out in and then just cut up film in the office, and I’m always asking the coaches what I can do to help. Especially my senior year, I’m going to spend as much time as I can investing in this team. Just doing everything I can to help us be better. It might be a small part, but every part matters. I’m going to do everything I can to help us be successful.” said Sholtis.
In his fourth year here at UNC Charlotte, Sholtis has witnessed ups and downs, but those up and downs are what has propelled him into the position he’s in today. Sholtis wants to be a coach one day and his aspirations aren’t too far out of reach. This season isn’t his last as a 49er, and it isn’t his last doing the dirty work that has made him who he is today.