Go, Bulldogs!

Major League

UNC Asheville Alumnus Called Up to Manage Cardinals

by Mike Gore

MIke ShildtAs a student-athlete at UNC Asheville, one of the things that Mike Shildt remembers best is the way people cared about him.

As a manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, one of the things his players love about Shildt is the way he cares about them. Two Cardinal players told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about how special it is to play for him.

“The guys are comfortable with him,” said Cardinals reliever Bud Norris when Shildt was named full-time manager in August. “He has a relationship with every last person on this team and even around the clubhouse on a personal level, and he can communicate with everybody. The fact that he cares about you personally off the field, and he cares about you on the field is a big part of that. You just feel warm when you’re around him.”

“Mike’s been really good at letting us play our own game and letting us play the way we want to play. That’s the biggest thing,” said second baseman Kolton Wong. “We have so many different personalities and different guys in this clubhouse. You just have to allow people to be themselves and eventually people are going to mesh together.”

That togetherness started early for Shildt, who came to UNC Asheville with a couple of friends from his American Legion team. He’s the first to admit that early in his college career, he knew he wouldn’t be playing baseball as a professional. He started coaching as a student-assistant in 1992 and graduated from UNC Asheville in 1993 with a degree in business management.

“I was finishing up and luckily Jim Bretz (UNC Asheville’s coach at the time) asked me to help out a little bit,” he said. “One of the coaches left after the first series and suddenly I got keys and more responsibility.”

The Charlotte native played for the Bulldogs for three years. He was a utility player who could play all over the infield and catch if need be. He was part of the 1990 team that finished with the best record in school history and part of a team that year that also set the school record for wins in a row with 10, but it was coaching that agreed with him.

“Things just clicked for me as a coach. I loved working with our guys and quickly found a passion in my mind,” said Shildt. “I was lucky as Coach Bretz gave me a lot of responsibility. I worked with our hitters and infielders and got a chance to work with our infield defense during a game.”

His experiences off the field were just as meaningful and defined his approach to the game.

“UNC Asheville never treated me like a number. They always treated me like a person,” stated Shildt. “I was lucky to receive a high-quality education from a great school that has helped me almost every day for the past 25 years. People cared about me and how I did. That meant a lot to me as a young adult.

“There were so many people at UNC Asheville who looked after me and helped me and made sure I graduated,” added Shildt. “Those are people that I will be forever grateful for and have influenced me to this day.”

Now that influence is transferring to his Cardinal players. Shildt was made permanent manager of St. Louis in late August when he signed a three-year contract, six weeks after being named interim manager. He has been part of the Cardinal organization for 15 years, starting as a scout in 2003 before becoming a minor league manager at three different places.


National Champions!

Bulldog Duo Brings Home Wins 

By Brian Hand

It was an impressive and some might say surprising run to the national championship for UNC Asheville tennis doubles duo Henry Patten and Oli Nolan, particularly with the matches played in Surprise, Arizona for the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships.

“We played really well and it just feels really good,” Patten said. “I cannot even believe it. To do that against some of the best players in the country is really special.”

Nolan fully agreed, “It was just a nice feeling that we could achieve what we did together. It was nice to know that we did it together. That was the main thing. We also had huge support from others on our team.”

72 PERCENT
(161 of 223) of UNC Asheville student-athletes during the 2017-18 athletic year received Athletic Director Honor Roll recognition with a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher. 

They secured a national championship on Sunday, Nov. 11, with a 6-2, 6-1 win over nationally 42nd-ranked Bjorn Thomson and Parker Wynn of Texas Tech in the championship match of the at the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex. They also knocked off teams from Mississippi State, Old Dominion, Ohio State, and Virginia Tech.

In addition to the national championship win, Patten was also voted by the ITA Officials at the event to receive the Sportsmanship Award for the 2018 Oracle ITA National Fall Championships.

The championship match win for Nolan and Patten was part of a tremendous fall of 2018 for the pairing. Nolan and Patten went undefeated playing together during the fall and won three titles including the national championship. To advance to the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships the Bulldog duo first captured the doubles title at the ITA Carolina Regional Championship on Tuesday, Oct. 16. Nolan and Patten also captured the title at the Georgia-hosted 51st Southern Intercollegiate Championships at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. on Sept. 10.

The spring season starts Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Asheville Racquet Club Downtown. Visit uncabulldogs.com for details.


Hall of Fame

Leaders in their Field

The new UNC Asheville Athletics Hall of Fame inductees.

Inducted into the UNC Asheville Athletics Hall of Fame the morning of Sept. 22 in the Ingles Mountain View Room at the Sherrill Center were men’s basketball legend (1) Guy Batsel (1966-68), volleyball standout (4) Elif Unlu Englert (2003-07), women’s soccer star (2) Kristi Cummings Melis (1993-96) and retired faculty member (3) Robert Yearout (1987-2016).

Already in the UNC Asheville Athletics Hall of Fame, retired Bulldog Sports Information Director Mike Gore was inducted into the Big South Conference Hall of Fame in May 2018. Gore was honored in the Significant Contributor category for his 29 years of service as the longest-tenured sports information director in Big South Conference history.


Page-Setter

UNC Asheville graduate Kayli Nichols was selected as the Big South Conference’s Woman of the Year in July of 2018, an award sponsored by Big South Corporate Partner Musco Sports Lighting.

Kayli Nichols, Photo by Adrian Etheridge '15“This is a very exciting recognition for Kayli to receive,” UNC Asheville track and field head coach Jesse Norman said. “I can’t think of anyone that is more deserving of this honor than her. She was a model student-athlete from the time she came to UNC Asheville.”

With degrees in German and political science and a minor in Spanish, Nichols graduated from UNC Asheville with a GPA of 3.974. The Raleigh, North Carolina, native also served on Asheville’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), Leadership Council and the German Club, as well as interning this past year for Inclusive Development International. During her senior campaign, she was named the Big South Outdoor Scholar-Athlete of the Year and the Big South Indoor Co-Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Nichols departed Asheville as the record holder in three events—outdoor 100mH, indoor 60mH and indoor 500m. She was also a member of two relay teams (4 x 400m indoor and outdoor relays) that own the fastest marks in program history.