CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The third week of Charlotte women’s basketball preseason practice has come to a close, and with it, is the latest edition of the notebook leading up to the exhibition opener Nov. 2 against Johnson C. Smith.

Each week of the preseason notebook, we will feature activities surrounding the program, interviews with members of the support staff and video interviews with players, chosen at random. This week’s players interviews include freshman Mylia “Meme” Garner (here), junior Hillary Sigmon (here) and redshirt junior Gabby Tyler (here).

Fast Break Club social
The Charlotte women’s basketball program held a pizza party to tip-off the year with its Fast Break Club members. Approximately 30 members of the club showed up and had a chance to mingle with the coaching staff and get insight on the early practices and upcoming season.
For more information about the Fast Break Club, contact director of operations Eric McCombs at or (704) 687-1013.

Consuegra on ESPN 730AM
Head coach Cara Consuegra was featured during the 7:30-8 p.m. half hour of the weekly 49ers Coaches Show Monday at Dave & Buster’s inside Concord Mills. Consuegra sat down with Josh Feldman, who will be returning for his second season as the lead broadcaster for this year’s team, and station general manager Lanny Ford to discuss the upcoming season and the recent Conference USA media days.
Stay tuned for more updates once the season gets underway regarding more appearances by Consuegra on the weekly show on ESPN 730AM. The events are always open to the public and questions will be taken as well.

Fan Day
The annual basketball fan day festivities will take place from 3-4 p.m. Saturday inside Halton Arena. Both the women’s and men’s teams will be on-hand to sign autographs, perform abbreviated scrimmages on the main floor and meet and greet with Niner Nation fans. A free youth clinic will also be held with registration available here.

Season-opening press conference
The press conference held Oct. 1 with head coach Cara Consuegra, junior Hillary Sigmon and redshirt junior Gabby Tyler was a success. Catch highlights of the press conference here and through the Charlotte49ers.TV portal on the website. Special thanks to media production assistant Megan Allman for putting the clips together.

Game time
All games on the 2013-14 docket now officially have a start time, as plans for the Jan. 3 matchup with UNC Wilmington have been finalized. The 49ers and Seahawks will tip at Noon, as part of Education Day in Halton Arena.

Season and individual game ticket information is available on or by calling (704) 687-4949. Reserve your seat now as the 49ers look to improve upon last year’s 14-4 home record, which set a single-season school mark for home victories.

This week’s support staff interview is with academic advisor Rachel Ramey. Ramey, Richmond, Va., native is in her second year working at her alma mater and with the women’s basketball program.

1. Where does your passion for helping student-athletes succeed in the classroom come from?
When I was a student here I worked with the baseball team. I was the student manager as an undergrad. It was really at that point that I wanted to work in college athletics but I didn’t know at that time what it really was or what I wanted to do specifically.
And so, Coach Hibbs’ wife, Lisa, who is our director (of athletic academic center) here, when I graduated, she said that I would be a great fit working with academic advising, so she said, “If I have a graduate assistant position that opened, would you be interested?’ and I said ‘Yeah.’ So she called me one year later and she had a position open so I came back to grad school and tested the waters to see if this was really something that I wanted to do for a living. I think it was really early on when I started that I just knew that it was my kind of my niche. I just related really well to student-athletes. I understood everything where they were coming from, and it was 2008, my first year in grad school and I just knew right there that it was the field that was right for me. I had two years under my belt working as a GA, and after that point, I knew that I was going to try to find a job in this field. I was able to come back here and I am definitely glad that I took the opportunity to come back and I definitely think that this is the right job for me.

2. You played a big role in helping Jennifer Hailey turn her academics around during her time here. What about her progress excited you the most?
Well, it took a lot of people that played a big role in turning her academics around. I definitely give a lot of credit to Lisa (Hibbs) because she was Jenn’s advisor for the first four years that Jenn was in school. I knew Jenn when I was a grad student. I worked with Jenn when she came in her freshman year so during her entire first year, when she redshirted and basically was like an academic redshirt, I worked with her very intensively to just try to get a foundation to build study skills and just work with her in and out. It was a daily grind with her.
When I left after grad school and I was gone for two years and I came back to see Jenn having grown  just in those two years that I wasn’t around, I just saw a ton of changes in her, so last year, I think it was really easy for me to transition back because she knew me, she remembered me from when she first started here and, because of that relationship already, it allowed to kick off where we left off and she trusted me. The advice that I gave her and the time that I spent with her on trying to make academics an emphasis and a priority was really easy. She bought into it quickly. It wasn’t hard. She made all that work on her own and it was really just providing her the support to be able to do it.

3. When you see a student-athlete graduate, describe that feeling you have.
I get so excited, honestly, because I know that over four years that you’re here, you get to see them go through so many changes. That’s the thing that I am most passionate about is seeing someone who comes into school where maybe the odds are against them, maybe they didn’t have the structure and the support in high school that they have here in college, and they themselves didn’t know that it was possible. So just to be one of the many people that is able to touch them while they are here in college and maybe help them grow and change and become a better person overall, that to me, is the thing that is the most exciting about my job. When they graduate, just seeing how excited they are and knowing that they have accomplished something that not everyone is able to accomplish and know that’s going to take them to the next step, I just love being a part of that.

4. What steps are taken by your office to ensure a student-athlete keeps up with his or her school work while on the road for games and longer stretches, such as tournaments?
We have a lot of different services in place. What we try to instill to them from the second that they walk onto campus is that they have to put a priority on academics. That’s got to be the first priority. Sometimes it gets hard especially when they’re in-season, so we really look for the support from the coaching staff when they’re on the road and they’re traveling. We really want the coaching staff to make an effort.
For example, study hall on the road, make sure to make time for school because school doesn’t stop when they’re traveling. So they still have to adhere to all the deadlines that they’ve got for their classes so we know that there’s got to be an emphasis from the coaches.
A lot of times what we will do is come up with a game plan for them through the time that they’re on the road. We would discuss it with the coaching staff to make sure that those things are in place. When they’re not traveling, when they are here, they have all the support in the world from us they have access to our center from 8 a.m. to 10 at night. We make sure that we are available to them whenever they need assistance. We make sure to provide them with assistance with different resources on campus related to different classes and that they’re really getting the support from our end and making sure that academics is at the top of the list for them.

5. You’re involved in a lot of the community service projects throughout the department and also serve as the life skills coordinator. What about those projects helps make a well-rounded student-athlete?
I think it is more than just athletics or academics that makes someone a good person. I think that overall I think you got to be able to show that. Especially the first thing is that we get a lot of support from the community. They come to a lot of our events. They donate money to our department because they want to see the success of our student-athletes.
For me, it’s more about of giving back to a lot of people in the community but also it does help build character. It does help build values and instill different traits in student-athletes that makes them well-rounded, so when they do go out into the world, they’re good citizens to their community and they understand the importance of giving back.
And then the different life skills are really things that our student-athletes can build upon to help them grow whether it is personally, professionally, things that are related to career development or giving back to the community, like going to schools and talking to kids. I just think that overall it makes them well-rounded and it helps them prepare for what we as Americans expect as citizens and neighbors and people that interact with us.