Five Things to Watch For

Charlotte men's soccer team in the huddle during a game against Florida Atlantic

We are approaching the start of a new athletic year for the Charlotte 49ers. There are many things to look forward to, and the teams will try to pick up where they left off. Here are five things that you need to watch for in the athletic year. 

5. A Return to Normal

After a year of Covid-19 affecting athletics across the country, it seems that we are in store for a return to normal. Unfortunately, Charlotte was no exception to the effects of Covid, as every sport was affected in some capacity.

Many athletic events were canceled or rescheduled throughout the year, and fans couldn't watch their beloved 49ers take the court or field. Masks became required for all players and coaches. Things changed drastically, and the world lost normality for a short time.

With the decline in Covid cases and the introduction of the vaccine, many can return to normal. Fans will return for all 49ers sporting events, and the teams are ready to welcome everyone back. It will be a year that sees a triumphant return filled with the sights and sounds that makes sports what it is.

4. A Historic Season for Charlotte Football

Last season, the Charlotte 49ers football program was only able to play six games due to the spread of Covid-19. The 49ers are hungry to play an entire season and get to the second bowl game in program history.

The Niners have many high-profile matchups this season. The 49ers will be hosting the Duke Blue Devils inside the confines of Jerry Richardson Stadium. The team will also travel to Champaign, IL, to face the Illinois Fighting Illini in a pivotal matchup.

The 49ers also have a competitive conference slate with multiple games televised on CBS Sports Network. The team is excited to compete for the conference title against favorites Florida Atlantic and Marshall, which will travel to face the 49ers in Charlotte this season. The Niners have a shot at getting to their first-ever C-USA championship game.

Head Coach Will Healy is excited to see what heights the program can reach this season as the team continues to make a name for itself. This season could be a great one for the 49ers as they look to bounce back after last year.

3. Soccer Programs Picking Up Where They Left Off

The Charlotte men's soccer team had an outstanding season last year and will look to build off of last year's success during this year's campaign. The team boasted a 6-3-2 record and a national ranking for multiple weeks. The 49ers were also able to reach the NCAA tournament, where they fell short to the Tarheels of North Carolina.

The 49ers will return star players Patrick Hogan and Preston Popp, who plan to lead the team back to the NCAA tournament. The team has unfinished business and will look to make their presence felt this season.

The Charlotte women's soccer team struggled throughout the season but was able to put it together and get to the finals of the C-USA tournament, where they fell to nationally ranked Rice. The 49ers are ready to take the next step this season. The team is young, but veterans Julia Patrum and Abby Stapleton will lead the team to success.

This fall, soccer will return as Covid meant that the 49ers had to play all of their games in the Spring last season. Both programs are getting ready to retake the field; this time, it will be during the regular schedule.

2. Basketball Programs to Get Better after Promising 2020

Last season showed great promise for both basketball programs, and it is something to grow on in 2021. Both teams added news transfers and will return multiple starters in hopes of reaching the NCAA tournament. It will be an exciting year for Charlotte 49ers basketball fans.

The men's basketball team finished 9-16 last year after a promising start to the season. Star Guard Jahmir Young returned to the team after a phenomenal campaign just a year ago, and this time will take the leadership role for the team. The 49ers have also added multiple transfers from major programs, such as Clyde Trapp Jr. from Clemson and the 2020 Patriot League player of the year Austin Butler who comes from Holy Cross; they will look to produce at a high level this season.

The women's basketball team had woes in the first part of the season last year but were able to get it together toward the end of the season. The 49ers will put multiple teams on upset alert this year, such as North Carolina and Wake Forest. Jada McMillian and Octavia Jett-Wilson will be significant parts of the team's success.

The expectations are high for both teams to continue to get better and push for a tournament bid. It will be something to keep an eye on this athletic season.

1. Charlotte Baseball to Grow into a Powerhouse

The Charlotte baseball team is coming off of the best season in program history as they had a stellar record of 40-21. The Niners won their first-ever East Division title and also made the NCAA tournament. The team is only going to get better and is hungry to avenge their tournament loss.

The 49ers bats were hot all of last year. The team scored 417 runs last season, and it had to do with the long ball as Charlotte hit a total of 66 home runs. The Niners will look to continue the trend this season.

Charlotte returns two of the three players who had a batting average over .300. Austin Knight and Will Butcher will look to be key players in the team's growth. The 49ers will be poised to return to form, and the goal is to reach the College World Series. 

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