Jonathan Limehouse

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The Dirty Work: A basketball manager’s story

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, NC 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.

49ers fall to Marshall

After losing to Tennessee last Saturday, the Charlotte 49ers (4-6, 3-3) were defeated again by Conference USA rivals Marshall 30-13 at Joan C. Edwards Stadium Saturday, Nov. 10. 

Charlotte was in striking distance of the Thundering Herd but Marshall sealed the deal in the third quarter outscoring the 49ers 17-3. Charlotte couldn’t rally back in the fourth as they didn’t score a single point. 

Running back Benny LeMay was the most effective offensive weapon rushing for 72 yards. LeMay currently is ranked third in C-USA and 34th in the NCAA in rushing. Unfortunately, LeMay came up eight yards short of another 80-yard rushing performance; this would’ve been his sixth consecutive 80-yard rushing game. 

Quarterback Evan Shirreffs was the only Niner to score as he scored in the first quarter on a one-yard run for a touchdown. Shirreffs ended the game with 152 passing yards on 13 out of 25 possible pass attempts and he had an interception towards the end of the fourth quarter. 

Kicker Jonathan Cruz was a consistent piece of the Niners offense making both a 40 and 35-yard field goal attempt and his lone extra point try as well. Cruz hasn’t missed a field goal in his last three games. 

All-time, the 49ers are now 4-16 during the month of November. 

The Niners will look to recover from their two-game losing streak as they come home and go up against the FIU Tigers (6-3, 4-1) next Saturday, Nov. 17.

The game is scheduled to be at 2 p.m. at Jerry Richardson Stadium. 

Photo by Chris Crews

49ers top Marshall on senior night

Seniors Jannelle Curtiss and Reeana Richardson were honored with a bouquet of flowers before the start of the match. The two seniors received a standing ovation from the crowd as they stood in the middle of the Halton Arena hardwood.

The Charlotte 49ers volleyball team (16-14, 6-8) started off slow against the Marshall Herd (10-19, 3-11), but the 49ers ultimately defeated Marshall 3-1. 

The 49ers narrowly lost their first set of the game 27-25, but they managed to dominate the Herd their next two sets outscoring them 25-15 each set. 

Both teams fought tooth and nail to win the fourth set, but the 49ers wound up winning 27-25.

Junior Molly Shaw was the enforcer for the Niners leading the team with 17 kills. Junior Sofie Perrens led the team in aces with two. Freshman Tyra Galloway was the shield of the team leading in blocks with four. Freshman Nya Steele led the team in assists with 60 and junior Taylor Berg led the team in digs with 20.

The 49ers have clinched a C-USA tournament berth with their win against Marshall and they’ll look to play the number one seeded Rice Owls next.

The 49ers will look to defeat the Owls Friday, Nov. 16 in Huntington, West Virginia in the Conference USA tournament opener.

Photo by Leysha Caraballo

Going the distance

The Charlotte 49ers men’s and women’s XC teams are gearing up for the NCAA Southeast Regionals Friday, Nov. 9. 

The 49ers recently received news that eight runners were named to All-Conference USA Teams. Redshirt senior Tom Nobles and junior Paul Arredondo made First Team All-Conference USA. Juniors Zach Marchinko and Bridget Abbatiello made Second Team All-Conference USA. Junior Alex Cornwell, redshirt junior Matt Bomkamp, junior Katie Tomasi and freshman Chandler Horton made Third Team All-Conference USA. 

“It’s definitely a good day for the program and for those eight individuals. They put in a lot of hard work, not just this season, but over time. I think they take a lot of pride and represent our program at a high level. There’s a lot of proud alums and just proud team members overall. They were out there representing that day, so it was definitely fun to see them be honored for their hard work and accomplishment and hopefully continue to build off it in the future.” said Coach Joseph Lynn.

Two individuals who’ve managed to go the distance time and time again are Nobles and Abbatiello. These two runners had different paths to Charlotte, but they’ve both excelled since they’ve been here. 

Nobles has been at Charlotte the longest of the two and he’s still performing exceptionally well in his senior year. He’s the 2018 Conference USA Air Force Reserve Cross Country Men’s 8K Champion, he is C-USA’s Most Outstanding Senior and he was named to First Team All-Conference USA. 

“Yeah, he’s a guy that came in as a very average recruit for us out of high school. I wasn’t the coach that recruited him, but he’s shown hard work and consistency over time pays off. I think he’s the type of person that when I’m talking to recruits, whether they’re a top end runner in the state or a developmental kid that’s trying to figure out if we’re the right fit for them or not [sic]. Tom’s one I can use as an example of showing his progression over time and just day-to-day for our athletes. He does everything right, doesn’t take any shortcuts, he’s always the last one, he’s always doing the most, running the furthest [and] doing the little things the best.” said Coach Lynn.

Tom Nobles, 2018 Conference USA Air Force Reserve Cross Country Men’s 8K Champion. Photo courtesy of Charlotte Athletics

 

Coach Lynn notices Nobles’ consistency, which is what Nobles himself considers to be instrumental in his successful career at Charlotte. 

“Definitely consistency. That’s one thing I even try and tell to the younger kids too so they understand like it’s not all about having one great workout or every once in a while doing everything that’s asked. It’s more a matter of constantly doing as much as possible. That includes stretching, diet, hydration, sleep…all that sort of stuff. I’d like to think I’m just a pretty consistent runner, especially going into conference. Mentally I just kind of prepared myself like I’m consistent in practice, I can be consistent in races too.” said Nobles.

Nobles’ consistency is why him breaking the school 10,000 meter record isn’t shocking. Breaking records isn’t on his mind when he’s running; it isn’t a priority, but he doesn’t not acknowledge them. 

“Definitely not a priority, the way that I look at records too, although I think [it’s] definitely cool to get a record. At the same time, you never know how the race is going to be run; it could be horrible conditions. I mean, it really just comes down to performing well when it matters, which is conference regionals [and] the bigger meets. Usually I feel like the records are actually broken at least in something like a 10k. That would be broken earlier in the season, not actually at a big regional meet [because of] the way the regions usually run races. Definitely an added bonus to get a school record.” said Nobles.

Whether he’s breaking records, or practicing, Nobles prepares the same way before he even takes a step onto the track. He’s drinking as much water as he’s sweating out, and even his pre-run meals are consistent.

“I was actually talking with some other guys the other day about this. Apparently I hydrate a lot more than other people. Morning runs in general, I’d say I probably have like close to 30 ounces of water before I run. I’ll wake up right around an hour before practice starts and then just start drinking water. I’m not necessarily thirsty right away, but after drinking some, it kind of forces me to drink even more after that. That’s about it, I mean I definitely try and keep stuff consistent. Often I have oatmeal; that’s my go to. Oatmeal and some peanut butter.” said Nobles.

Nobels’ infatuation with water may be hereditary because his sister Claire Nobles was a collegiate swimmer at Duquesne. 

“We actually both played a good amount of sports when we were younger. I did summer swim team for like 10 years of my life and she also ran track for quite a few years as well. I think it just turned out I really enjoyed running and she really enjoyed swimming. I mean I definitely would never have wanted to be a swimmer. I can swim okay, but I like being able to breathe whenever I want [and] not having to time my breathing. It worked out for the best, and she’s actually a decent runner too, if she trains.” said Nobles.

Nobles may not be a swimmer, but he’s definitely a runner. This will be Nobles’ last season running for Charlotte, but he’ll be the standard for runners after him. 

Bridget Abbatiello, out in front for the Niners. Photo courtesy of Charlotte Athletics

One runner that’ll presumably take Nobles spot as “role model” of the team is junior Bridget Abbatiello.

Abbatiello made Second Team All-Conference USA, which perplexed her, following the 2018 Conference USA Air Force Reserve Cross Country Championship. 

“It was actually a big surprise to me. I just kind of went out and felt the race as it went on. It went out pretty slow and I just could feel myself moving up and up as the race progressed. I ended up passing more people in the second half, which is what you’re supposed to do, and I just felt really good and I rolled with it,” said Abbatiello. 

Second Team All-Conference USA is an astonishing accomplishment, but Abbatiello’s résumé is diverse. She’s also made history twice. She’s a member of the first team to win a Conference USA Championship in program history and the first Charlotte women’s team to claim a conference title since the program’s three-peat from 1992-94. She doesn’t dwell on the past though; she is proud of what her team did this season. 

“Towards the beginning of this season, we always knew after last year that we were going to have a target on our back. We kind of came out of nowhere last year, no one really suspected that we were going to be the champions. This year we lost two of our top five runners, so we knew that was going to be a big blow. We just had to stay strong and brave, and I think we did that as a team. I think we definitely progressed and got stronger given our circumstances, and we really fought through that. I think fifth is a great fight, our conference is very competitive through it all so I think we did pretty good considering everything that happened.” said Abbatiello.

As mentioned before, Abbatiello made history twice. She helped lead Stafford High School to its first cross-country conference championship since 1997. The coach of that history-making team was Coach Peter Augrom who had a significant influence on her development as a runner.

“He definitely developed me into the runner I am today. He really pushed all of his confidence and belief in me as a runner and helped me develop to really where I am. That’s where I got all my confidence. As soon as I committed here to Charlotte, there was a tremendous decrease in my times where I was just on top of everything. I was a regional champion in track, so I knew it all had to start senior year with cross country. That was an amazing start in my opinion for my senior year; it was great.” said Abbatiello.

Coach Augrom was a major influence on her in high school, and Coach Lynn seemingly has transitioned nicely into Augrom’s role for Abbatiello.

“From the start of the season he’s really believed in me; he really pushed me. Coming off last spring, I was a conference champion in the steeplechase, and so he just kept reminding me, ‘You are a conference champion you can do anything in this conference.’ That really helped me and he’s really encouraging in our workouts and it shows too on and off the track. It’s been pretty good; he’s been a great coach so far this season.” said Abbatiello.

Abbatiello’s brother Anthony is currently running for Stafford and Coach Augrom. 

“He does his best. Basically, for him, it might just be a confidence thing because he’s always loved video games; he’s that kind of kid. It’s nice to watch him go out there and do what my older brother and I have done and he doesn’t really have that kind of pressure that we did, either. He just goes out and has fun and that’s all we tell him to do really. He’s actually developed really well so far as a freshman so it’s exciting to see what he’ll do in the future.” said Abbatiello.

While he will be a sophomore at Stafford next year, she will be a senior at Charlotte. Her senior year weighs heavily in her mind. 

“It’s scary to think about how fast time really does fly. I’m going to start cherishing everything much more. I can’t rush the sport [and] I can’t rush school, I just gotta let everything fall in place. I’m excited to see what I can do senior year as an athlete and as a student. My goal is to graduate with over a 3.0 GPA, which can be a little bit hard at times, but I just gotta put my mind forward and keep driving.” said Abbatiello.

Both Nobles and Abbatiello are key parts of their respective teams. Coach Lynn attributes the teams overall success to all the players, coaches and Charlotte’s administration. He understands that there are several parts that form a whole.

“There’s a lot of different things. First, it all starts with our athletes. I mean, they bought into a system and bought into a thought process of wanting to be not just good for Charlotte, or good for the state of North Carolina, or good in our conference, or good in our region, but nationally good. We’re trying to build a national brand here with our program and so it starts with them first and foremost putting in the hard work day in and day out,” said Coach Lynn. “Obviously our director of track and field, Coach Olsen…we’ve had full support of him which is huge. Our administration, from Mike Hill to Kim Whitestone to Chancellor Dubois, is very supportive of our program and of the athletic department as a whole. There’s a good number of people; my staff starting with my assistant coach Hannah Rieden, and then our training staff and what not. There’s just a lot of parts that go into it.”

Coach Lynn and the 49er XC teams’ next stop is regionals in Rock Hill, S.C, but Lynn isn’t fazed by the task ahead of him and his teams.

“Just business as usual. We don’t really change anything up as far as our training specific to the course or the meet that we’re going to necessarily. I mean, we have a season plan in place, we know what works for our guys and for our gals and just kind of sticking to the plan that we’ve had all year. Trying to not get too distracted. We’ve had some ups and we’ve had some downs throughout year, but we gotta stay focused. Obviously, next week’s the meet that we train for all year, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that we change anything at this point in the year. We’re backing down volumes a little bit, intensity stays high, and hopefully just trying to sharpen up. We’re definitely tired; expect us to have some tired legs and feeling the season a little bit, but if we didn’t at this point, then we probably didn’t work hard enough. Hopefully next week with the cooler weather and being close to home, we’ll be ready to roll.” said Coach Lynn.

The sky isn’t the limit for Charlotte’s XC teams and it’ll be entertaining to see what they can do at regionals next Friday, Nov. 9. 

49ers defeat Lobos in defensive battle

It was a defensive clash between the 49ers and the New Mexico Lobos Saturday, Nov. 3. Charlotte wound up winning this battle 1-0. 

It was a stalemate, but the 49ers were more aggressive throughout the entire match, out shooting the Lobos 18-2. 

“It was a really close game back and forth, it was kind of a midfield battle today. We had spells where we kind of got on top, and then they had spells where they got on top. I thought the last 15 minutes you really saw what we were made of,” said Coach Langan.

Senior Tommy Madden was the hero of the night scoring his fourth goal of the season. The only goal of the contest came in the last two minutes of the match. 

“Tommy came up big like a senior has to, one of the leaders of the team,” said Coach Langan.

Madden stepped up big for the Niners, and made his last regular season game one to remember.

“I just put it on my left foot and hit it across goal so happily it went in,” said Madden.

This is Charlotte’s last game of the season before the C-USA Tournament. The Niners are 8-0 at home, and the C-USA Tournament will be held on Charlotte’s home turf at Transamerica Field. Home field advantage has been to Charlotte’s advantage all season long.

Charlotte will kickoff the C-USA Tournament and play UAB Wednesday, Nov. 7 at Transamerica Field. The game is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. 

49ers fall to Owls

The 49ers (15-13, 5-7) were unsuccessful on their road trip to Houston against the Rice Owls (20-4, 11-0) on Friday, Nov. 2. They were unable to win a single set against the Owls, losing 3-0. 

This interconference game comes on the heels of a dominant performance by the 49ers against Louisiana Tech where they beat the Bulldogs 3-0. 

Molly Shaw led the 49ers in kills with 9, Yumi Garcia led the 49ers in digs with 13, Nya Steele led the 49ers in assists with 19, Tyra Galloway led Charlotte in blocks with 4 and Sofie Perrens led Charlotte in aces with 2. 

While the night resulted in a loss for the 49ers, Garcia broke Charlotte’s school record for digs in a single season with 624 total digs. Garcia was the record holder, and she’ll remain the record holder beating her 617 digs from last season. 

The Owls managed to outscore the 49ers in points 60-34. The Owls also managed to accumulate more kills, aces, assists and digs. 

The 49ers had 24 kills to the Owls’ 48, Charlotte had two aces compared to the Owls four, only 21 assists compared to 44 and 44 digs compared to 53. Charlotte did manage to tie the Owls in blocks with eight a piece. 

Charlotte will look to get back to their winning ways in their next contest against the UTEP Miners in El Paso on Sunday, Nov. 4. This interconference match up is scheduled to start  at 2 p.m. at Memorial Gym. 

The 49ers exstinguish the Flames

The Charlotte 49ers (10-5-1) “doused” the UIC Flames (10-3-1) Saturday, Oct. 27. 

Before a ball was kicked, four seniors were honored before the match. Defender Callum Montgomery, forward Dean Rutherford, midfielder Tommy Madden, and forward Daniel Bruce were all honored. 

“UNC Charlotte’s amazing, even being from England it’s felt so at home here; the fans are just amazing,” said Bruce.

The 49ers started the first-half aggressive; Charlotte outshot UIC 6-5. Both teams were chippy defensively, but Charlotte managed to score two goals in the first period. 

The first goal was scored in the 29th minute by defender Luke Johnson and was assisted by midfielder John Ranshaw. 

“When we got the goal, it settled us down and then we started to find some rhythm and some space and we got in some really good looks and scored some great goals before halftime,” said Coach Kevin Langan.

UIC couldn’t stop the 49ers offense. Bruce dazzled on his senior night, scoring two goals in the first half. Bruce scored in the 16th and fourth minute of the first period. Bruce’s first goal was assisted on my by Ranshaw and his second goal was assisted by forward Preston Popp and Madden.

“It’s great to score goals, but it’s a team effort every single time,” said Bruce. 

The 49ers started the second half three goals ahead of the Flames. 

The second half was a defensive tug of war between both teams, but the 49ers managed to score again in the 22nd minute. Defender Patrick Hogan was the scorer of the final goal of the evening. Hogan’s goal was assisted on by the 49ers assist leader, midfielder Teddy Chaouche.

The 49ers managed to keep the Flames from scoring and won 4-0. Coming into this contest Charlotte was outscoring opponents 15-0 at Transamerica Field.

“It shows a good balance to the team; it shows we’re offensive and we can get goals,” said Coach Langan.

The 49ers continued to extend their winning streak to four and they’ll attempt to capture another win at home when they’ll clash with the Florida Atlantic Owls at Transamerica Field Wednesday, Oct. 31. The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. standard eastern time.

49ers bested by Blue Raiders

The Charlotte 49ers (3-4, 2-2) traveled to Floyd Stadium following a blowout 40-14 win against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers last Saturday, Oct. 13 at Jerry Richardson Stadium.

The 49ers couldn’t capitalize on their momentum from last game, losing to the Middle Tennesse Blue Raiders (4-3, 3-1) 21-13.

The 49ers scored first off a 57-yard run in the first quarter by running back Benny LeMay. A 2-point conversion pass was attempted by redshirt senior Hassan Klugh but it failed.

The second quarter was all Blue Raiders as they scored twice on a 29-yard pass and a 5-yard pass from quarterback B. Stockstill to wide receiver Ty Lee.

The third quarter was a defensive stalemate which resulted in neither team scoring.

The fourth quarter presented the 49ers with several chances to capitalize and win the game. Quarterback B. Stockhill threw a 24-yard pass to wide receiver Gatlin Casey and cornerback Nafees Lyon caused a forced fumble on the Charlotte 1, but Casey recovered it in the end zone for the score.

The 49ers did end up scoring again off a 29-yard pass from quarterback Evan Shirreffs to wide receiver Mark Quattlebaum.

RB LeMay has been a bright spot on the 49ers offense; he’s had back to back 100 plus yard rushing games.

Shirreffs had a fine game throwing for one touchdown and 209 yards on 20 completions out of 40 pass attempts. This was Shirreffs first game as Charlotte’s starting quarterback and he continued to show why he was next up on the depth chart.

The 49ers return home to Jerry Richardson stadium to play the Southern Miss Golden Eagles Saturday, Oct. 27. Kickoff is scheduled to be at 2 p.m.

Digging from the ground up

It’s been more than a year since Yumi Garcia took her first step onto Halton Arena’s slickly polished maple court. The game was against South Carolina State and Garcia finished with 11 digs. The 49ers beat the Bulldogs 0-3. Garcia quickly made a name for herself as a defensive dynamo and exhibited why she was so highly touted out of high school. Garcia’s conquest towards prominence began in Cerejeiras, Brazil, and her devotion to volleyball is hereditary.

“When I was six-years-old, my brother used to play volleyball so I used to go with him to practice. I wanted to do exactly the same thing so that’s why I started playing volleyball,” said Garcia. 

Her brother’s admiration for volleyball drove Garcia’s competitive spirit, which led her to play for Colegio Regina Mundi in high school. 

“I went to Colegio Regina Mundi because I thought they were a good team and I wanted to play at a good club,” said Garcia.

After her stint at Colegio Regina Mundi, Garcia attended Bethel University in Tennessee. During her time at Bethel, she had a team best, 554 digs. Garcia was also named to the SSAC’s All-Freshman, All-Conference and All-Tournament teams. Her journey before and after attending Bethel was a tumultuous one.

“It was such a long ride. First of all, I moved from my city to another state in Brazil to play volleyball. Then from there, I went to Bethel University which is another school, and then I ended up here [UNC Charlotte]. I had ACL surgery in high school, I didn’t live with my parents and I moved out of my house when I was 14. I had to figure out how to be independent.” said Garcia. 

The obstacles Garcia has faced to get where she is now is why she takes every game in stride. Every game is another opportunity to help her team win, which is why she makes sure her spirit and psyche are sound.

“[I] put my mind in the right place for sure. Every time we’re about to play, I just start to think about what I want to do on the court and I calm myself down if I’m nervous. I pray too; that’s part [of] my routine,” said Garcia. 

Garcia’s perseverance explains why she was able to have a record breaking 44 dig contest against Davidson this season. Garcia’s mindset throughout the game wasn’t to break a record, but to win.

“I was definitely not thinking about breaking the school record. I was trying to do my best and win the game,” said Garcia.

Garcia’s main priority is to help secure the win for her team, numbers don’t push her to play harder. 

“For me, it’s not thinking about the numbers, it’s more about the game. Every time we’re going to play a game, I don’t think about getting 40 digs or anything like that, I think that I wanna win and I’m going do my best to do that.” said Garcia.

Garcia’s team-first mentality makes her sometimes shy away from announcing her own individual goals.

“I do have a personal goal that I want to accomplish this year. For the team, of course, we want to go to the tournament and win conference and get the ring; that’s what we want. My plan is to break the all time conference record.” said Garcia.

Garcia doesn’t play volleyball 365 days of the year; she spends her time off similarly to how most college students spend their free time. 

“I like to hang out with my friends, watch TV shows or watch movies. When I’m not playing, I just like to chill honestly because I’m always so tired. We are doing so many things that when we’re not doing anything, I just want to chill.” said Garcia. 

Garcia also takes time out of her schedule to visit Cerejeiras, visiting once a year.

Garcia’s new home away from home, UNC Charlotte, has helped her grow as a person and player. 49ers Volleyball Coach Karen Weatherington has had a significant impact on Garcia. 

“One of the things that coach Weatherington taught me, it might not be directly, but sometimes when she says things it makes me think about being that powerful woman. She’s a good representation of how, as women, we can do a lot of things as well [sic].” said Garcia. 

Garcia wants to follow in the footsteps of Coach Weatherington and inspire younger girls to dig their way to their dreams. 

“I wanna say for little girls to not let people tell you what you can and can not do. If you wanna do something really badly, you can work hard, dream and set your goals. I’ve heard in my life so many times that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish something, but here I am.” said Garcia.

Garcia left Niner Nation with three words. 

“Nothing is impossible.” said Garcia.

Nothing is impossible, and this Charlotte 49er is a testament to this. 

There are eight games left this season and Garcia is on pace to break her own dig record. She’s currently at 532, but knowing Garcia, she’ll settle for the Conference USA Championship. All eyes will be on Garcia as she continues to stake her claim in the record books and the world.

Charlotte gets burned by Blazers

Clower takes the ball upfield. Photo by Chris Crews

The 49ers (8-6, 4-3 C-USA) took on the UAB Blazers (7-5-1, 4-2 C-USA) in an inter-conference match Friday, Oct. 12. The Blazers were the victor, defeating the 49ers 0-1. 

Before the match, seniors Amelia Clower and Abby Coffey were recognized for their collegiate careers as 49ers. The crowd stood and applauded the senior defender and goalkeeper as they stood and waved at midfield. 

The first half of the match was a defensive battle that tested starting goalkeeper Abby Stapleton’s fortitude. She ended the half with five saves and was the shield of the team. 

The 49ers weren’t as aggressive in the first half shooting the ball a total of six times, compared to Blazers’ 11 attempted shots. Junior forward Megan Greene led the charge in the first half shooting the ball four times. 

“I just wanted to get a goal and put my team in a good position.” said Greene.

UAB goalkeeper Kelsey Daugherty demonstrated why she was named to the All-Conference USA First Team last season. Her defense was impenetrable and her success in goal continued into the second half of the match. 

The 49ers noticeably came into the second half significantly more aggressive than they had in the first half.  

“We needed a reaction. We hadn’t played particularly well in the first half and so we looked for a reaction; we got it.” said Coach John Cullen. 

Despite the 49ers chance of pace in the second half, freshman forward Kamilah Mustafa scored the only goal of the contest during the period to put UAB up by one.

“We had some chances in the second half. There was a couple of ricochets off the bar that cleared off the line and then one kind of goes in. I’m not sure if it’s in or not so we gotta respect the referees’ decision.” said Coach John Cullen.

While the 49ers look forward to playing in El Paso against the UTEP Miners, the conference tournament remains in the back of the team’s mind. 

“The real goal is we gotta play better first of all. We gotta get away from saying conference tournament. I think that’s probably in the back of our minds. I think we gotta be playing better, and if we can play better then there is a conference tournament,” said Coach John Cullen.

The 49ers will look to defeat the UTEP Miners in El Paso Thursday, Oct. 18. The game is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m, and it’s an inter-conference game, so there’s a lot at stake and the Niners hope to stake their claim.

Kicking his way into hearts and record books

Cruz kicks a solid field goal. Photo by Chris Crews

Less than a year removed from kicking between the uprights at Weinman Stadium, Jonathan Cruz is now breaking records as a 49er. Cruz was a two-star recruit coming out of Cartersville High School, but he’s quickly kicked his way into being one of the top 30 kickers in the nation. And he’s a freshman. 

“It is just being new, transitioning into college and all the classes and stuff; it’s a great experience to be a freshman,” said Cruz.

Transitioning isn’t unfamiliar to Cruz; he transitioned from soccer to football at Cartersville High. Cruz has shown he’s an exceptional athlete, whether he’s kicking field goals or penalty kicks.

“It all started in soccer, then it transitioned into the form of football. If it wasn’t for soccer, I wouldn’t be playing football right now. It was easier to get a scholarship in football too. I did get looked at in soccer, but football I liked better,” said Cruz.

Whether it’s soccer or football, Cruz is a competitor who prepares routinely before every kick. He attributes his accuracy and efficiency to his preparedness. 

“I used to have a routine through high school, so it was just praying and knowing that every kick is a new kick. I don’t take every kick into pressure, but it’s something I just look forward to every game,” said Cruz.

Cruz is an extremely humble and spiritual individual who comes from a winning high school program. Cartersville High School’s head football coach Joey King coached Cruz and standout quarterback for the Clemson Tigers, Trevor Lawrence, in high school. 

“It was a great experience; I played with one of the best players in the nation, Trevor Lawrence, and it was great playing with him,” said Cruz. “We have great fans up there just like we have in Charlotte, so it was a great experience and I’ll never forget the four years I was there.”

Cruz and Cartersville High won the 2016 Georgia 4A State Championship, so he’s accustomed to winning. Coach King emphasized winning at Cartersville and so does Coach Lambert here at Charlotte. 

“They’re both great coaches. They both have their differences, just a different place, but they have the same mentality to win,” said Cruz.

Charlotte is in the process of rebounding from a 1-11 season last year and are already sitting at a better record than this time last year.

Cruz’s winning mentality is just one of the many things needed to make that happen. He committed to Charlotte to win football games, but that’s not the only reason. 

“I liked the campus and coaches, they treated me like family. All the other places did great, but I choose the place that felt like home,” said Cruz.

Cruz is comfortable at Charlotte, which may explain him being 7-8 on field goal attempts at home. He’s automatic at Jerry Richardson Stadium. His consistency thus far demonstrates how much his contribution to the team matters.

“They needed help last year, so I felt like I could come in and help right away,” said Cruz.

Cruz wants to help the 49ers and he has four years to do so. It’s only the beginning for Cruz and he understands this.

“It’s a great chance. I want to get a Preseason [Award] next year, so I gotta work hard to get that. I just wanna help my team and get all the wins we can possibly get,” said Cruz.

A game the 49ers didn’t win was Cruz’s favorite game of the season thus far. Cruz tied the school record for most field goals made in a single game during this contest, and he exhibited his leg talent throughout the entire contest. Included in his record-breaking game was a 54-yard field goal, the longest in school history.

Cruz is currently a 49er, but he sees a bigger stage ahead of him. He has NFL aspirations and his talent warrants said aspirations. Playing in the league is a dream of his that he’ll be chasing for the next four years.

“Hopefully that dream comes true one day, if everything works out and all my work put in works for me,” said Cruz.

Cruz is already one of the top kickers in the nation, so his ceiling as a player is limitless. The future of 49ers football seems to be on the right track, especially when Cruz is kicking the way he’s currently kicking.

The 49ers continue to impress this season and show why last season was a fluke. They now also have a kicker who can help to kick them closer to the top of the conference. Look for Cruz to continue to impress throughout the season as he is sure to do so.

Marshall struck by 49ers volleyball

The Niners attack the ball. Photo by Pooja Pasupula

The Marshall Thundering Herd fell to the 49ers 3-2 Friday, Sept. 21. This interconference match was a back and forth contest as both teams battled it out until the end. 

The Thundering Herd struck first by winning the first two sets. The 49ers ended up coming back and winning the final three sets to capture the win. 

Reeana Richardson led the 49ers with 26 kills and 1 dig. Tyra Galloway led the team in blocks, Nya Steele led the team in assists and Yumi Garcia led the team in digs. 

The 49ers managed to score 74 points and clutched the win. This was an away game, but the 49ers found a way to silence the noise of the 688 people in attendance. 

The 49ers are now 10-6, while the Thundering Herd fall to 7-8. The 49ers also led in kills, aces, blocks, assists and digs. This was a statistically dominant performance by the 49ers and they hope to continue to dominate. 

The next match will be on the road to play the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. The Hilltoppers come into the match with a 9-5 record, so it could be a tough contest for the 49ers.

The Niners will look for Garcia, Richardson and Jocelyn Stoner to perform like MVPs in this match. This could be a close one, but the 49er Volleyball team has the firepower to win. 

Again, the 49ers Volleyball team will battle the Hilltoppers in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The match begins at 1 p.m. You don’t want to miss it.

Charlotte rebounds with win over Monarchs

Niners celebrate after Juwan Foggie pulls his second interception of the season. Photo by Chris Crews

As Hurricane Florence approaches, the 49ers faced off against the Old Dominion Monarchs Thursday, Sept. 13. This inter-conference game was a back-and-forth outing that ended with Charlotte beating the Monarchs 28-25.

Coming off of a 9-45 loss to Appalachian State last Saturday, the 49ers came out of the gate hot with an 18-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Chris Reynolds to wide receiver Victor Tucker. The connection between the two freshmen has become apparent as the season continues to unfold. Tucker scored a 12-yard touchdown pass from Reynolds in the season-opener against Fordham.

Wide receiver Workpeh Kofa came into Thursday’s game 56 yards short of eclipsing 1,000 yards for his career and ended the game just 2-yards short of achieving this milestone.

Running back Benny LeMay hurdled over Monarchs defenders and ended the game 3 yards short of a 100-yard rushing performance. LeMay is 100 yards short of surpassing Matt Johnson in second-place all-time in career rushing.

“It’s a critical thing to do on offense, to able to run the ball.” said LeMay.

Aaron McAllister was effective on the ground as well; he ran in a vital 14-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Not to mention a 21-yard kickoff return in the second quarter.

A 48-yard interception by senior linebacker Juwan Foggie nearly ended the day for the Monarchs’ offense. Foggie also had a 26-yard interception against Fordham in the fourth quarter.

The 49ers decided not kick a field goal on a pivotal offensive drive midway into the fourth.

“It was a tough decision, we went back-and-forth on it, and just didn’t want to risk getting a field goal blocked,” said Coach Brad Lambert.

The Monarchs wound up scoring on the following drive, but McAllister recovered an onside kick attempt which put the ball back in the 49ers possession.

Redshirt senior wide receiver, Mark Quattlebaum, scored the second touchdown of his career on Charlotte’s first offensive drive of the third quarter. Quattlebaum couldn’t corral a deep throw by Reynolds in the fourth, which would’ve essentially ended the game.

Defensive lineman Timmy Horne seemed to have his hands up the entire game as he had two pass deflections and was responsible for a blocked field goal attempt in the first quarter.

Monarchs wide receiver, Jonathan Duhart, was a thorn in the 49ers defensive backs’ sides the entire game. Duhart ended the game with a touchdown and 127 receiving yards on 7 catches.

Freshman kicker, Jonathan Cruz, was perfect this game nailing both of his field goal attempts. He nailed a 42 yard and a 36-yard field goal in the second quarter. Cruz was recently named Conference USA Special Teams Player of the Week after his 3-3 field goal performance against Appalachian State.

“I’m proud of Jonathan, he had another good day today; he kicked the ball out of the endzone,” said Coach Lambert.

Linebacker Anthony Butler continued to impress as he led the 49ers with 11 total tackles.

“I just run to the football as best as I can,” said Butler.

The defense gave up 25 points to the Monarchs, but showed resiliency down the stretch. Linebacker Jeff Gemmell has a been the model of consistency as he surpassed Daquan Lucas to be in the 49ers all-time Top Five. Gemmell ended the game with 10 tackles, but he only needed 7 to be in the Top Five.

The wind seemed to be the only issue that arose during the game, but the team used the two days of practice to prepare for any weather complications.

“It’s all about how you prepare throughout the week and with the change of weather and everything going on, and them only have a short amount of time too. I like how we really took advantage of the two days we got,” said Reynolds.

The 49ers head off next to Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium to play the UMass Minutemen Saturday, Sept. 22. Charlotte will look to continue building a winning football culture as they travel on the road for their first away game. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.