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Will Healy's approach puts the fun in Charlotte 49ers football
First-year coach passionate about affirmation
 
Published Tuesday, August 27, 2019 7:35 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

FILE PHOTO
Charlotte 49ers football coach Will Healy, right, with athletics director Mike Hill, has turned the 49ers program toward a more affirmative culture.

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Will Healy may not know the music playing at practice, but it’s just one of the many ways Charlotte 49ers football culture has changed since December.

The 34-year-old first-time FBS head coach was hired less than a month after Charlotte fired the program’s inaugural head coach, Brad Lambert. Preseason has looked vastly different, from open practices to encouraging the community to come out for scrimmages. Healy has a different approach, than Lambert, who is 20 years his senior.

“I have no dance moves, so I definitely haven’t taught them how to dance,” Healy said at Tuesday’s media availability. “I had the question the other day about where’s the fine line between energy, passion, enthusiasm, positivity and discipline? Because you’ve got an older football team, you don’t worry about it as much. You don’t allow the give and take of the game, the environment, to take over, but you do need to enjoy doing what you do, and enjoy having success that makes you hungry enough to want to do it again.”

Charlotte opens the regular season on Aug. 29 at 7:30 p.m. against Gardner-Webb at Richardson Stadium. While Healy won’t say who will take the first snap at quarterback, he signaled every intention to balance the position between senior transfer Brett Kean and sophomore Chris Reynolds. The 49ers play at Appalachian State and Clemson in the season’s first month.

“Coach Healy definitely emphasizes passion, energy and just being yourself, letting loose and having fun,” said preseason all-Conference USA senior running back Benny LeMay, who led the 49ers with 232 carries for 1,243 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. “We play this game to have fun and enjoy it. That’s one thing that I’ve fallen in love with about him—just letting us be ourselves, playing music at practice and dancing. I’m definitely loving it.”

Senior linebacker Jeff Gemmell describes the change as an entirely different outlook for the program, which was picked to finish last in the Eastern Division after going 4-4 in C-USA last season (5-7 overall).

“It kind of shifted a little bit from a ‘no’ culture to a ‘yes’ culture, focusing on the positive things,” Gemmell said. “I feel like everybody from the coaches to the players, we’re all optimistic. We’re excited. We have energy. We love going to practice. We all want to get better, and we love it. In the past, people would get out of here and leave early and go home. Now we have guys hanging out, enjoying each other’s company. We feel more like a brotherhood as well. Starting with coach Healy, trickling down to the assistant coaches and players as well. It trickles all the way down to the school too. In class, we’re shaking hands, we’re talking to students. We’re way more involved than we have been in the past.”

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