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Cara Consuegra has built a program which epitomizes a five-prong pillar of specific core values during her tenure with the Charlotte 49ers. As she enters 2017-18 in her seventh season as the school’s head women’s basketball coach, she has maintained the program’s steep tradition-rich success along the way as the 49ers continue to make strides across the national scene. The five core values in which the program prides itself include Heart, Effort, Accountability, Respect and Toughness. Each one composes a letter in the larger symbolic meaning for HEART.
Consuegra became just the second head coach in school history to reach the 100-win plateau this past season as Charlotte opened the Conference USA campaign at North Texas Dec. 30, 2016. The entire year witnessed several school, team and individual milestones and records being shattered. Consuegra has tallied a 112-75 (.599) ledger, led the 49ers to four postseason appearances and garnered a spot on the league’s inaugural Coaches Circle in 2015-16 during her tenure.
The Mt. Airy, Maryland, native oversaw four postseason all-conference award winners last year, including senior Lefty Webster who capped her career as one of the most productive all-around players in school history. Webster ended her time as a Niners player ranked fifth on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,503 points. She added an all-defensive team accolade, along with redshirt junior Nyilah Jamison-Myers, as the 49ers held 40.0 percent of those spots, the highest percentage in the league. Webster became only the second player in 49ers history to register 1400 points, 600 rebounds, 300 assists, 200 steals and 75 blocked shots.
Associate Head Coach
A six-year veteran of the Charlotte women’s basketball staff, Joanne Aluka-White is in her first year as the Niners’ associate head coach after receiving the promotion just prior to the 2017-18 campaign. While with the 49ers the previous six years as an assistant coach, she has played a vital role in the program reaching the postseason three times since her arrival, including a WNIT Sweet 16 berth in 2013.
Her on-court coaching focuses primarily on the post players, where the Niners have had great success under her watch. Redshirt junior Nyilah Jamison-Myers blossomed into an All-Conference USA Defensive Team performer in her first eligible campaign with the program. Jamison-Myers, who set the school’s single-game field goal percentage record at Southern Miss in January 2017, led the league with 63 blocked shots (conference-high tying 36 in league games).
Aluka-White also groomed redshirt freshmen Dara Pearson and Jaida Robinson to significant playing time throughout the year. Pearson turned in her best effort with 13 points at College of Charleston during non-conference play, while Robinson had back-to-back games of nine rebounds in the Conference USA Championships.
Nicole Woods is in her fifth season with the Charlotte women’s basketball program in 2017-18 as an assistant coach. She has been a member of two postseason squads during her tenure as well as a 21-win campaign last year. Prior to the 2017-18 season, she was promoted to the program’s recruiting coordinator role.
Woods has overseen the development of a number of star guards for the program, including three-time All-Conference USA choice Lefty Webster who graduated in May 2017. Webster has earned a reputation around the league for being a threat on both ends of the floor, evidenced by garnering a spot on the All-Conference USA Defensive Team last season in addition to her all-league accolade. Webster completed her career fifth on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,503 points, and as one of only two players in program history with at least 1400 points, 600 rebounds, 300 assists, 200 steals and 75 blocked shots.
Grace Hunter, who played two seasons with the 49ers, was an all-conference first-team member who also made an immediate impression as a rookie, earning All-Conference USA Freshman Team plaudits. The hard-nosed player played an integral role for the Niners during her first league campaign, winning a program-record five Conference USA Freshman of the Week honors as she became a factor in the Niners’ high-octane offense.
Tanisha Wright, a 2010 WNBA champion and 12-year veteran in the top professional league nationally, was announced as an assistant coach with the Charlotte women’s basketball program by head coach Cara Consuegra in September 2017.
“Tanisha is someone I’ve known for a long time,” Consuegra said at her hiring. “I couldn’t be more thrilled to bring in someone that I’ve known for so long.
“She brings a wealth of experience from the professional ranks, as a 12-year WNBA pro in addition to her time with numerous teams overseas. She has a great work ethic but also a great presence about her in terms of being a leader and being a great role model for our student-athletes. I think she’s going to be an unbelievable coach and I’m thrilled she’s starting her coaching journey with us.”
Director of Operations
Jena Jessup returns to Charlotte women’s basketball as the program’s director of operations for her fourth season in 2017-18. Jessup was hired in October 2014 after a short stint as an assistant equipment manager at Georgia State.
Her duties with Charlotte include team travel, uniforms and equipment, working camps, overseeing the managers and other duties within the program to ensure it runs smoothly. She also is in charge of the program’s community service, from the planning of different events through the execution of working with local charities and groups to expand the 49ers’ presence around the area.
At the 2017 Final Four in Dallas, Jessup served on a panel during the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Convention, held in conjunction with the event. She was a presenter for the topic “Creating a Championship Culture: The Integral Role a DOBO Plays” during an hour-long session. The Learning Lab was facilitated by Georgia Tech’s director of operations Catherine Greene.