April 11, 2011
CONWAY – The Coastal Carolina men’s and women’s soccer teams hosted its first annual Alumni Weekend on Friday through Sunday, April 8-10.
The event drew over 60 men’s and women’s alumni back to Coastal Carolina University, with some returning to campus for the first time since graduation. The highlight of the weekend featured the men’s and women’s alumni playing a friendly with the current members of the Coastal Carolina soccer teams.
In a ceremony prior to the women’s game, the alumni came together to pay the ultimate homage to a former player, dear friend and role model by officially retiring April Erin Stirton’s number 26 from the women’s soccer program. Almost a year ago to the day, the CCU women’s soccer family suffered the devastating and tragic loss of Stirton.
Stirton, from Waxhaw, N.C., proudly wore the number 26 for the Chanticleers. She entered Coastal Carolina as a junior transfer from Wingate College in the fall of 2002, playing two seasons as a Chanticleer under former head coach Karrie Miller. During that time, Stirton displayed her talent, skill and competitive drive to earn a starting position on the CCU field and simultaneously became an immediate member of the women's soccer family with her southern charm, compassion and unique personality. During her soccer career at Coastal Stirton started in 38 of the 39 games in which she appeared. Over the 2002-03 seasons, Stirton's contributions on the defensive end helped lead the Chants to an 18-15-6 overall record.
While at Coastal, she was an actively involved student-athlete, was a two-year starter on the women's soccer team, was a member of the Coastal Carolina University National Competition Cheerleading Squad, and an intramural basketball star and a dedicated student of the Wall College of Business.
After graduation, April followed her dreams by taking her athletic talent and ambition to California where she worked as an up-and-coming performer and stunt double on numerous TV shows and movies.
After the ceremony, the women’s contest saw the alumni and current team tie 2-2 after 90 minutes of play. The Chanticleers’ third all-time leading scorer, Ashleigh Gunning, netted both of the alumni’s goals. Freshmen Hannah Brown and Chelsea Strange found the back of the net for the current Chants.
On the men’s side, the very spirited match was captured by the collegiate Chanticleers by a 1-0 count. Justin Portillo, who finished his freshman campaign last fall with two goals and six assists, scored the lone goal of the day.
Following the matches, the alumni and current players attended a banquet in Adkins Field House where they were addressed and thanked for their continued support of Coastal Carolina athletics by Director of Athletics Hunter Yurachek, men’s soccer head coach Shaun Docking and women’s soccer head coach Paul Hogan. Throughout the banquet a slideshow displayed photos of yesteryear as the alumni interacted with the current team members and reminisced of times at Coastal Carolina.
The weekend concluded with the women’s team hosting a four person sand soccer tournament at Bummz at the Beach on Sunday afternoon.