Back in 2013, the UNC Charlotte 49ers played their first football game in the university’s 67 year history. With the university obtaining a football team, only three schools in the UNC school system is now without an university team: UNC Wilmington, UNC Asheville and UNC Greensboro. The three universities and High Point University are the only four schools in North Carolina that plays in Division I athletics, but is without a university football team. That being said, this has not stopped students here at UNCG from attempting to join the 49ers and the other 127 universities who play DI football.
This upcoming Sunday, we will see the beginning of the football season for the Club Football team. In their second year of existence, the club team has already traveled to Ohio State to play their university’s team, and traveled to Columbia, Georgia. In their inaugural season, club football went 3-4, with victories at Chapel Hill and against Longwood. Their open game brought out around 350 people to the recreational field.
With the season beginning on Sunday with a home match against George Mason, quarterback and team president Brandon Travis discussed the atmosphere of the team at the season’s dawn.
“We’ve been in school about three weeks now, but everything is looking optimistic. We have a lot of returners and we have a lot of new guys. Things are a lot more organized than last year and we’re looking forward to having a great season with more support.”
Travis continued by describing the importance that some of the new players will have on the team.
“Considering that pretty much our entire offensive line is new, that is going to be a big contributor, but we also have a lot of transfers from other schools” Travis said. “So really all around, our new players will make a big effect on this team but we are still relying on the veterans to get them more familiar with the offense.”
As both the team’s quarterback and the club’s president, Travis’ leadership does not end at the final seconds of practices and games. Travis talked about what he’s seen from the university and their reaction to a football team at the school.
“I say we get really good support from the fan base and the student body and people were connected with. Seeing that we live in North Carolina, people love college football and everyone wants a college football team” Travis explained. However, he also talked about a more negative response from the university.
“Except when it comes from administrators, we get a negative connotation for some unknown reason when it comes to the administration and the athletic department. We’re willing to try to work with them to reduce tension, but it seems like they don’t want us. We’re staying optimistic and I’ll say we aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.”
When asked to elaborate, Travis had this to say.
“They’ve been really tedious about things that are really unnecessary, for example the North Field usage. We just want to get treated fairly like all the other students and we feel like they prioritize some people and not us” he said. “Considering we have over fifty people in our program, which is larger than I think any program we have, athletically, at this university. So I think we should have a little more consideration when it comes to using the stuff we pay tuition for.”
Defensive tackle/linebacker and head of recruitment officer for the team, Michael Youngblood, says he agreed with Travis’ assessment of the situation, as well as added his own take on the team’s supposed lack of popularity when it comes to university higher ups.
“I feel like it’s more the boosters than the university” Michael said. “From what I’ve heard, the boosters that fund the school don’t really want us to have a football team, therefore it’s not going to happen because if you don’t have any money, you’re not going to get an NCAA program.”
Despite this belief, Michael talked about strategies the team has taken to gain support for the team and his views of the future of football at UNCG.
“We’ve sent out a lot of emails, talked to a lot of boosters, gained a lot of resources the past few years, in and out the state. Overall, I think within five to ten years, I think we’ll have a program.”
With the season beginning Sunday at 1 p.m. on the recreational field, Brandon Travis has high hopes for the the team on and off the field. Here is his answer to where he hopes to see the team a year from now.
“Honestly, I just want the team to get better and become more involved in the community. I want people to know of our program and that’ll stay here” Brandon said. “I want build a foundation and grow, to develop young men and women as leaders in the community and serve as good role models as Spartans.”