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Courtesy: Charlotte Sports Information
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The Final 49: Giving Thanks

As the fall practice season comes to a close -- as the school takes ownership of the stadium and with a nod to the season that is upon us, there is plenty to be thankful for. 

Here are some of our football thank yous:

I absolutely, positively love the iconic image of the students and alums marching through campus with their makeshift goalposts.  Thank you.

No matter what, the ground breaking of our stadium was to be a memorable occasion. But the 3,000 fans with their grills grilling, flags waving and cornhole playing made it perfect.  Thank you.

Remember Dijuan Harris wearing our helmet on a stationary bike while Charlie Coley III dunked over him at basketball madness.  Thank you.

What about Will Thomas wanting so badly to be the First 49er. Thank you.

Or how about coaches who have seemingly put their careers on hold by adding exactly 0 wins to their resumes over the past year or two - to be a part of our 49ers program and to build something special.  Thank you.  Thank you. Thank you.

Did you know there is an FSL owner in Japan.  Or that a grandparent completed Christmas shopping at the FSL store -- making for several happy grandkids.  Thank you.

Ever see a movie called "The Perfect Game" about a little league team from Mexico that played in the Little League World Series.  The first time their players saw a grass field, they jumped on the ground and rolled around. Well, when our guys got into the stadium for the first time they pretty much did the same thing -- priceless to see college kids act like little leaguers.  Thank you.

So many have put in so much to get us this far it would be an effort in futility to try to list names of folks who have made a difference -- basically each and every one of you reading this played a part -- so thank you.

With that in mind, though, there are some other things to be thankful for:

Listening to Offensive Line Coach Phil Ratliff at practice.

Watching Larry Ogunjobi kick high in warmups.

Saying "Larry Ogunjobi"

Hearing coach Brad Lambert call everyone "Coach".

"Our fans are putting goal posts up".

Watching a virtual Tonka Truck playground as dump trucks moved mountains of dirt.

Seeing a 49ers football-designed cement truck spin around town.

The first stretch of turf being rolled out.

The live webcam.

Unpacking shoulder pads.

Blocking sleds and first down markers spotted on campus.

With cameras on them, watching the team's first-ever trip out of the field house, up the ramp and out to the practice fields.

"I just saw a 49ers Football ad on Monday Night Football!"

Answering questions or accepting comments from excited football fans at nearly every turn: Gas stations, grocery stores, youth games - not to mention twitter and facebook.

The common sight while driving by the stadium of people posing for pictures outside the fence.

The gratifying sight of parents posing in those very same pictures with their baby/toddler, ready to pass Niner Nation tradition from one generation to the next.

The magnificent view from the hospitality deck with that wondrous backdrop that is CRI campus.

The 49ers logo at midfield.

The sights that are football practice:  A field full of players stretching.  Drills, drills and more drills.  Players lifting each other up even as they knock each other down.

The sounds that are football practice:   Coaches whistles. An airhorn.  "Period 8 - Period 8".  Pads crunching and voices carrying.


Energy.  Effort.  Enthusiam.

True gratitude.  Because, yes -- we, as an athletic department are extremely thankful as we build this program -- but it is refreshing to see the gratitude of others it will effect, like coaches, players and fans.

Just hours after the stadium was turned over to the school players gathered in the tunnel as they got ready to head into the stadium.  They laced up their cleats.  They grabbed their helmet.  They paused at the entrance.

On the way through, one player approached an administrator -- reached out a hand.  And said thank you. 

These are moments we appreciate as this program grows from dream to reality.

And we're thankful for both.  The dream and the reality.


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