Charlotte 49ers redshirt junior guard Christian Hithe is excelling both on and off the basketball court. Hithe’s excellence as a student-athlete has not gone unnoticed as she was recognized as the OrthoCarolina Student Athlete of the Week for Nov. 11 after performances against Gardner Webb and Richmond.
“When I hear that [I won athlete of the week], I don’t think about myself, I think about the team effort,” said Hithe. “They helped me get the stats. I’m thankful for them because I wouldn’t have been able to get that accomplishment without them.”
On the court, Hithe leads the 49ers’ suffocating perimeter defense -- that has allowed a meager average of 28 percent three-point shooting percentage to opponents -- with six steals through three contests. Additionally, Hithe, 22, gives the 49ers a viable scoring option as she is averaging 11.3 points per game.
“I want to be all-defensive team for conference,” said Hithe. “I also want to continue to knock down shots. I want to be able to be a knock-down shooter, and that’s something you can never master, so I have to be in the gym a lot.”
Hithe leads the team in several key statistical areas, but her primary goal remains to be a positive leader and role model for the Charlotte underclassmen in a similar way that former 49ers Laia Raventós and Amaya Ransom set a positive example for her as an underclassman.
“My freshman year [at UCF], I don’t really remember having anyone to look up to,” said Hithe. “But when I got [to Charlotte], I looked up to Laia and Amaya. So having someone like them, I understand that now that people are looking up to me. I have to make sure that I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.”
Since Hithe is not the most outspoken person on the team, she tries to lead the 49ers by example through maintaining a high grade point average, inviting teammates to study together and giving maximum effort at practice.
“I lead by example a lot, maybe not a lot by voice, but definitely by example,” said Hithe. “Off the court, I try to keep my GPA high and I try to be a phenomenal role model by inviting teammates to the library and making sure they get things done. On the court, I give my best effort and I give everything I can every single day with every single rep and with every single drill.”
Several of Hithe’s teammates have expressed their appreciation for the strong leadership and example she exhibits on a daily basis. For Hithe, knowing she is impacting the lives of the Charlotte underclassmen means a great deal.
“[The underclassmen looking up to me] means everything to me,” said Hithe. “Seeing the growth from the freshman and sophomores makes everything worth it. I love my teammates. I thank God that He led me in this direction.”
Although Hithe sees the benefits of her leadership, she wants to continue to develop those skills in anticipation of key leaders such as Jade Phillips leaving the team after graduation.
“As a leader, it is hard for me to hold people accountable,” said Hithe. “Jade Phillips handles a lot of our accountability. I just leave it up to her. But I know next year she’s not going to be here, so I have to step up. That is the one thing I have to improve on. I have to hold people to the standard.”
Hithe is majoring in computer science with an information technology track. As a result of giving her education a high priority, Hithe earned early entry into the masters of science information program.
“Growing up, I always loved computers and I was always tech-savvy,” said Hithe. “So I figured, why not do computer science? Our whole future is computers. Even though I don’t like everything in it, what keeps me motivated is that I’ll graduate with a degree that will help me get on the up in this world.”
Furthermore, Hithe sets an example for her teammates by balancing her on-the-court production while sustaining an impressive 3.833 GPA. Hithe has confidence that her strong academic record and basketball performance will demonstrate her time management skills and work ethic to future employers in the computer science field.
“Being a student-athlete, it’s hard to get internships and to network,” said Hithe. “But with my major and being a student-athlete, my resume speaks for itself.”
Hithe continues to set the bar high for her future career and life after graduation and basketball.
“I want to start off working for a high-tech company, but my real goal is to own my own company,” said Hithe. “I want to be my own boss, and I want to have people working with me so that we can create a great team and make a difference in the world.”
Hithe is unclear what her future company and career would look like, but she knows that she wants to pair it with things she loves and values, including giving back to the community, sports, helping publicize women’s athletics and shoes.
“I want to have some sort of sports-technology company that enhances performance or creating apps to help women athletes get their stats and games out there,” said Hithe. “My dream store is to have my own shoe store. I love sneakers; I want to have my own shoe store. I know doing that, I’d be able to give back to my community.”
Just as Hithe sets high goals for herself, she also sets lofty goals for her team. Hithe, along with former AAU teammate Lauren Harley and close friends Phillips and Octavia Jett-Wilson, all agree on one common goal for the 49ers: a C-USA Championship.
“Our main goal is to win the conference championship,” said Hithe. “I definitely believe that we can win.”
The strength of the 2019-20 Charlotte 49ers is their stout defense, which ranks second in rebounding defense and fourth in opponent field goal percentage in the C-USA. Hithe believes focusing and building upon the defense are the primary keys to winning a C-USA Championship.
“If we can focus on defense, we no doubt should win the conference championship,” said Hithe.
Hithe looks to continue to play at a high level and sustain a high GPA while leading the 49ers along their journey to winning a C-USA Championship.