CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Earlier in July, UNC Charlotte announced the hiring of Charlotte native Robert Woodard as their new head coach, following the retirement of 27-year-long coach Loren Hibbs.
Woodard is an alumnus of Myers Park high school and then went on to be a star pitcher for the UNC Tarheels, where he is still their all-time winningest pitcher.
Following a brief stint in the minor leagues, Woodard began his coaching career where he would obtain jobs throughout North Carolina at UNC Wilmington and eventually his alma mater UNC Chapel Hill.
The experiences that he has been granted with have molded his coaching style and mentality.
“I want to take everything I have learned up until the age of 34 and bring it to the Charlotte program, players and staff while trying to put my own spin on it as well,” Woodard said in an interview with WBTV’s Ashley Stroehlein.
Replacing a 27-year veteran in Loren Hobbs is no small task and Woodard has used all of his available resources to be sure that he can come into the program with the same success.
We asked if Woodard had reached out to the former coach and what the transition would be like from what was in place.
“Sure, we’ve spoken. Having Coach Robinson and Coach Simmons still here on staff is going to be a huge help for myself moving forward. He was here for 27 years, and in this day and age that’s pretty rare, and I think if you asked any first-year coach if they could be at a program like this for 27 years they would take it. I’m just trying to continue to build on the foundation he built here and try to take it to another level,” Woodard said.
Failing to make the NCAA tournament since 2011, Woodard hopes to be able to put the program on a path of success, but his true goal is to make a connection with his players, their families, and other members of the 49er nation.
When asked his year one goals, Woodard emphasized the importance of forming valuable relationships with current and incoming players. Woodard also mentioned that his relationships with the other coaches on campus was a big key to accepting the job.
“It’s certainly an exciting time to be a member of the 49er program both in athletics and our program certainly. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Ashley Chastain of softball, Will Healy in football, Ron Sanchez in Basketball and others and it doesn’t take long to be around those individuals and see how impressive they are and know there is a ton of energy around 49er athletics,” Woodard said.
Woodard mentioned the difficulty of moving on from alma mater UNC, due to a long connection with head coach Mike Fox.
“He was very happy (for me), it was certainly bitter sweet for both of us because we’ve known each other since I was an eighth grader coming to camps as a little kid,” Woodard said.
However, the Queen City native seems electric on his new situation and mentioned the humbling affect that comes with coaching just 30 minutes away from his childhood home.