THE FINAL 49:
We take a moment during each of the Final 49 weeks until Kickoff 2013 to look at various aspects of the Charlotte 49ers football program.
June 10, 2013
By Tom Whitestone
It’s not often that history walks through the front door.
So it was several months ago, when Carroll York came to meet Director of Athletics Judy Rose.
York, you see, was a member of the school’s first-ever football teams. He played in 1946 and 1947, and brought with him team pictures and posed pictures – and memories of teams that won’t be forgotten.
UNC Charlotte’s roots date back to 1946, when Charlotte Center of the University of North Carolina (CCUNC) was established to handle the influx of servicemen returning from the war. The center was housed at Central High School and students attended night classes, once the high school had dismissed for the day. The athletic teams were aptly nicknamed “Owls” in light of the night school status.
Carroll York had attended Tech High School in Charlotte and several of his teammates were also from Charlotte schools.
Like the 2013 edition, the 1946 Owls were a start-up program. The school was a two-year school but that first year was made up entirely of freshmen. The football team played other schools’ B teams or JV squads.
They practiced in an open field close to Central High School (now CPCC) and played home games at nearby Memorial Stadium.
During York’s visit, we took him to the football stadium, where he met head coach Brad Lambert and scanned a scene he found hard to believe.
After his visit, I took a trip to the university archives to dig through any information they might have on the early football teams.
The football team played for three seasons: 1946, 1947 and 1948. In 1949, as the school worked to turn the corner on becoming a permanent institution of higher education, numbers waned and the football program was stopped.
Little documentation was available about the 1946 season – but the 1947 campaign was covered regularly by the student newspaper. A team photo, game programs and clippings have allowed us to piece together rosters, schedules and results from 1947, with partial info about 1946.
We shared the articles with York – and even took him to the site of the 1947 team photo, a stone staircase adjacent to what was then the practice field.
We wandered the grounds, there, which have changed dramatically – and relived some moments with one of the 49ers first football players.
The interview is part of the latest 49ers Football Now documentary (link attached). And Carroll York and his teammates are part of the history of Charlotte 49ers football.
A couple of the images he supplied are part of the Wall of History graphics package that now adorn the Rose Football Center.
York, who attended the Spring Game and plans to attend the Aug. 31 inaugural game – on his birthday, no less, is beyond excited about the relationship he struck up with the 49ers.
And we are equally excited – as we reach back into our past even as we forge forward into an incredible future.