Feb. 25, 2011
Cullowhee, N.C. - Saturday afternoon's night cap of the Catamount basketball double-header also marks the final home events for five individuals of the Western Carolina family. Four men's basketball seniors make their final Ramsey Center appearance while Senior Associate Athletic Director, Fred Cantler, works his final home event of a storied career. He will retire effective the first of March.
Western Carolina hosts the College of Charleston Cougars in a showdown of divisional leaders at 4:30 pm on Saturday in the Ramsey Center. WCU can secure at least a share of the SoCon North Division title - and the number one seed in next week's conference tournament - with a victory over the Cougars. Both teams had their respective seven-game winning streaks snapped on Thursday night.
Saturday's game will be broadcast by the Catamount Sports Network with an air time of 4:00 pm, and can be heard locally on WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5 in Cullowhee, 680 AM WRGC in Sylva and 920 AM WPTL in Canton. Live streaming audio through Stretch Internet can also be heard online at www.CatamountSports.com.
Prior to Saturday's game, Cantler as well as the four seniors of the WCU men's basketball team - Blake Gallagher, Richie Gordon, Anthony Phillip and Mike Williams - will be honored in a special pre-game ceremony.
The four seniors have helped combine for 64 victories for WCU over the past four seasons, including the program's first 20-win season as a NCAA Division-I member a year ago. They also helped the Catamounts return to post-season play for the first-time since 1996 with the appearance in the CollegeInsider.com Post-season Tournament last March.
Cantler concludes his 33rd year of exemplary service to the University and its Department of Athletics with Saturday's regular season finale. A "jack of all trades" of sorts, Cantler has served as the compliance and eligibility officer for the department since 1996, while also overseeing game day management, scheduling and facilities. He has also been the primary sport administrator for football, men's basketball, women's soccer and baseball.
Cantler was honored on-campus on Thursday morning, with a special retirement reception scheduled for Friday evening at the Waynesville Inn, Golf Resort and Spa.
During his time as a sport administrator, Cantler was a driving force in the addition of the Catamount women's soccer program from scratch in 1999. Two years later in 2001, the program captured its first of three SoCon championships. Also, the Catamount baseball team won both the regular season and tournament titles in 2003 and won the 2007 SoCon regular season, advancing to the NCAA Wilson and Chapel Hill regional finals, respectively.
A 1978 graduate of Western Kentucky, Cantler came to Cullowhee in August of that same year as the department's athletic trainer - a position in which he held for 18 years prior to moving into athletic administration. He is well respected throughout the community both locally and amongst his peers.
Cantler plans to remain in Cullowhee as his loving wife, the former Katrina Hipp of Charlotte, is a teacher at Sylva's Smoky Mountain High School. He attributes a lot of his longevity in the field to the support from his wife. The couple has two children - Natalie Cantler Canter, who now resides in Brevard, and Clay, who works with the athletic staff at WCU - and a granddaughter, Emery.
Saturday is very busy in Cullowhee as the WCU baseball team hosts Manhattan beginning at Noon at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium. WCU's women host Chattanooga in the first game of the hoops twin bill beginning at 2:00 pm. It is likewise senior day for the squad with Emily Clarke and Kendra Carroll both to be honored pregame. The men's game will tip at 4:30 pm following the conclusion of the women's game.