CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Each Tuesday through the women’s soccer season, Charlotte49ers.com will feature alumnae of the program in celebration of the program’s 20th campaign in 2013. Former players were selected at random for the Q&A and the plan was to include all eras of the program, dating back to its inception in 1994.
This week’s edition features Dana Erato (1994-97). Erato, a Coconut Creek, Fla., native, played all four years for Robbie Church. She was a member of the program’s first Conference USA Tournament championship squad in 1995 and the C-USA tri-regular-season title winners in 1997.
She started 63 of the 81 games in which she played, tallying 12 goals and 13 assists for 37 points. She added four game-winning goals and 100 shots during her career. She also was a four-year captain, serving in the role in each of the program's inaugural four seasons.
Erato often times came through in the clutch for the 49ers, including nailing the winning penalty kick to give Charlotte a 5-4 shootout win over Evansville during the regular season, Oct. 14, 1995. She then dashed the Purple Aces’ hopes once again, blasting a 35-footer to end a three-overtime affair at 123:04, the latest goal scored in Niners history, and to give Charlotte a 1-0 triumph and the 1995 American Express/Conference USA Championships crown in the final.
1. What factors led to your decision to attend Charlotte?
When I found out Maria (Ciaravino) Palacio was going UNC Charlotte, it quickly became my first choice. We had always talked about playing soccer together in college.
2. How did you see yourself grow as a soccer player and as a person during your collegiate career?
I learned so much from Robbie (Church) and [assistant coach] Ronnie (Coveleskie) as a soccer player and person at UNC Charlotte. They coached us with such passion, commitment, discipline (on the field and in the classroom) and a deep love of the game and it certainly rubbed off on me. I came in as a nervous freshman and I graduated with such confidence as a soccer player, future educator and person.
3. What are some of your fondest memories of playing soccer with the 49ers?
Wow! I have so many wonderful memories of UNC Charlotte women’s soccer. Here are some of them:
-- Three-a-days, 12-minute run, 6 a.m. weight training (wait- you said good memories right?)
-- Being a four-year captain
-- Our first game ever against Duke
-- Listening to mixed tapes in the van on away trips
-- Pre-game dancing in the club house (I’m so glad we didn’t have YouTube back then)
-- Domino’s pizza after the games (Now I’m very grateful for all the running we did)
-- Freshman year haunted house and building snowmen on the front field
-- The never ending trail
-- Eye of the Tiger
-- Winning the Conference USA championship
-- Playing on the old field by the club house
-- Robbie’s halftime speeches at night games (enough said)
-- Santa Maria/My Maria (nobody messes with “The Boss”)
-- Cheering for the men’s team as it made it to the NCAA Tournament
-- Spending time with teammates on and off the field
4. How often do you play soccer these days?
Right now my 1-year old and I pass the ball back and forth (granted we are using our hands)!
5. Where are you currently living (city, state)?
6. What is your current occupation?
7. Do you have any family (husband/kids/pets)?
I was teaching college freshmen for Kaplan University but now I stay home and teach my most challenging student of all -- my very busy toddler.
I’ve been married for 8 years (to a proud Gator named Curtis) and I have a 1 year old son (Gabriel). I also have a dog name Sadie (who used to get much more attention before Gabe was born). 8. What advice would you offer to a current 49ers women’s soccer player?
Give every day all you have on the field and in the classroom. You can’t take any of this time back. It is all such a gift and it will go by in a flash. Be disciplined, work hard and remember to stop, take it all in and be thankful for this fantastic opportunity.