There are six seniors who will be recognized during Senior Night activities following tonight's Charlotte-George Washington game, all of whom Charlotte 49ers should be well aware of: De'Angelo Alexander, E.J. Drayton, Antwon Coleman, Jerell Jamison, Courtney Williams and Travis Gordon. Gordon, a walk-on, is the only fourth year senior in the group.
There is another fourth-year senior recognized for his contribution to the program tonight, one many fans may have seen but might not know -- head team manager Cass Ferguson. Ferguson, 22, is a graduate of West Forsyth High and will graduate from UNC Charlotte with a degree in history. He would like to get into college coaching and hopes to remain in the Charlotte area, but is still working out his plan for next season.
I consider Cass a good friend. He is taking a class about NASCAR this semester (he got bonus points from me for that) and has taken my relentless teasing this with good humor (The best was pointing out he brought a book he was reading for a class on two consecutive road trips but the same page was marked where he stopped reading on both trips).
While at practice Tuesday I decided to interview Cass about his job and ask some questions only he, as the team manager, would likely know:
Q: What does the head manager do?
Pretty much take control of the daily operations of the team. Make sure the team is where they need to be and they have what they need when they get there. There is a lot of unnamed jobs, things that come up at the last minute.
Q: Do you get paid?
I'm on scholarship. The amount differs on how long you've been here and how much work you do. During the summer I may also work at a basketball camp or work in the athletic department office.
Q: Who is the funniest player on the team?
Probably to me it would be E.J. because we have become such best friends. He and I joke around all the time. If not E.J., then (freshman walk on) Kyle Church. He does a lot of the freshman stuff, some of which is kind of goofy, and being a walk on we like to make fun of him.
Q: Who is the most serious player?
Definitely Lee (Goldwire). Lee is always no-nonsense, get straight to the point and take care of business.
Q: Who is the player that requires the most wake up calls?
That would be Antwon and Courtney. No matter how many times I call them, they always fall back asleep. Antwon, I will bang on his door. At times I'll yell, "It's the cops!" Occasionally if they leave the door open I have been known to go in and physically push Antwon out of the bed.
Q: Who is the earliest riser?
No doubt. Ian Andersen. I'll call Ian and no matter how early it is, he will just pick up the phone like he was up for hours and say, "Hey Cass, how are you?"
Q: Who do you have to worry about the bus leaving behind?
In my four years, outside of Curtis Withers, De'Angelo and Jerell Jamison are the ones I worry about the most. They always make it to the bus on time, but they normally get there just as coach (Bobby Lutz) is getting off the elevator and about to get on.
Q: Who is the pickiest eater?
Probably Jerell Lewis. Jerell is the one who gets salads when the rest of us are eating steaks.
Q: Who has the craziest clothing style?
That's probably our two West coast guys, Ian or (Sean) Phaler. When Ian first got here in the summer, I got him all his gear, all his Charlotte T-shirts and shorts and stuff. He said he really didn't like wearing basketball stuff to play basketball in, so the first time I played a pickup game with him, he was wearing a Hooters San Diego shirt or something. He pretty much wore that until we got to official practices and he had to wear the gear.
Q: What player offers you the most help in your job?
Over my four years Leemire may be one of the best assistant managers I've had. Lee always helps me out with a lot of stuff. Just today I went into the locker room and Lee was vacuuming the locker room. Ian is like that, too. If I am folding towels, they might offer to help me. Lee is also the player who has kept me here all the time, taking extra shots after practice.
Q: What was the 49ers' biggest win while you were here?
I have two. The win over Louisville here in my freshman year when they were ranked like No. 7. And also beating Cincinnati on the road. I knew the history of the Charlotte-Cincinnati rivalry when I got here and we had never beaten them on the road. That day was incredible.