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The Final 49: Coming This August


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.


Coming This August

May 27, 2013

By Tom Whitestone

Today, Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer.

But for 49ers fans, all eyes are on its end.

Graduation has come and gone.  We just passed the 100 day mark till Kickoff 2013.  We have the annual Great Gold Rush Auction coming up this Saturday.  

This past weekend the 49ers hosted the 2013 Atlantic 10 Baseball Championship -- notable because while track and field's Jake Deaton moves on to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., it was the last home event of the 2012-13 season.

With its conclusion, Niner Nation now awaits the coming August and the next home contests for the 2013-14 year.

Soccer, volleyball, cross country -- and, yes, finally, football.

The university sprang from humble beginnings in 1946 -- when the Charlotte Center of the University of North Carolina was established for the influx of servicemen returning from the war.

From 1946-48, the school fielded a football team but in 1949, as Bonnie Cone and others urged community leaders to make the school a permanent institution of higher education, interest in the football program waned.

Sixty-three years later, the team is back. 

In 1946, they were the Owls, because CCUNC was a night school, housed at Center High School. 

In 2013, the 49ers take the field for the first time.

Oddly, the 49ers are named as such because of the importance of the year 1949 and the pioneering spirit that made the school permanent -- a spirit that would lead the school to join the University of North Carolina system in 1965 -- a spirit that would lead to the return of football in 2013.

Fans who cheered the 49ers and Cedric Maxwell and Lew Massey and Melvin Watkins at the 1977 Final Four, hoped to cheer on a football team.  Fans who welcomed Jeff Mullins and  Byron Dinkins and a 1988 Sun Belt Champion team, longed to cheer on a football team.  Fans who greeted the likes of DeMarco Johnson and Rodney White and Jobey Thomas and Curtis Withers and Eddie Basden, Conference USA crowns and NCAA Tournament games wondered if the 49ers could add a football team.

And now, as the 49ers look to the likes of Pierria Henry and Willie Clayton and a return to Conference USA, the 49ers have, at long last, their football team.

"I never thought I'd live to see it," many a fan echoed at the Spring Game and seat selection process.  "I've dreamed of this."

Fans from the 60's and 70's and 80's and 90's and 00's alike have dared to dream -- and waited.  Some have waited longer than others -- but all have waited -- wondering if and when the 49ers would play football.

This past weekend at Hayes Stadium, Niner Nation had its last chance to turn out en masse for one final time in 2012-13.

Their next chance comes in 2013-14.

At soccer, volleyball, cross country and yes, finally, football.

Finally, football.


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