MEET WINTHROP’S BIGGEST FANS DUO A FIXTURE AT SPORTS EVENTS
Go to any Winthrop basketball game, and you’re likely to run into two people: Zeta Sistare ’57, clad in her Eagles- themed vest adorned with tournament pins and pieces of basketball nets that were cut down after winning Big South Conference Championships; and Nick Wellons, a Winthrop Athletics’ intern often found simultaneously cheering on the team while doing various work tasks.
Both lay claim to the title of ’Winthrop’s Biggest Fan,’ and with good reason. Sistare and her late husband, Joe, established two funds for the Coliseum’s athletic training center and shared a passion for Winthrop sports.
Wellons, a business administration major from Roebuck, consistently shares his love for the university on social media, and has fully delved into his Winthrop experience, looking for any opportunity to make others just as excited about Winthrop.
The two sat down at one of their favorite places—the Coliseum— to talk sports, superstitions and seating.
Q: How did you hear about Winthrop?
Zeta: I heard it was a good place for me to go to school. I was out in the country. I’m from down below Lancaster, a community called Flat Creek. It was known as a teacher’s school in the beginning. My aunt was a teacher and went to Winthrop. It was a good choice because I could get that two-year business degree and I could get the work-study scholarship. As a student I worked in what was called the bursar’s office.
Nick: I’ve known about Winthrop for a while....My sister was going through college recruitment and looking into different schools, and she wanted to be a teacher. Winthrop is known as a teaching school.
I would come up on the weekend sometimes and I’d hang out with my sister and see the campus. From a young age, I just saw how beautiful the campus was. I fell in love with the small-town feel. I don’t go anywhere where I feel like I’m a stranger.
Zeta Sistare and Nick Wellons 2 3 Q: How did you return to Winthrop, Zeta?
Z: I put in a job application. As we were moving, I drove up here and found a house to buy. When I arrived that day, Joe’s holding the phone saying Winthrop wanted me to come in for an interview. I opened the wardrobe box, grabbed clothes and ran to the interview.
(Sistare worked as an administrative assistant in various departments before spending the majority of her career in the Department of Mass Communication).
Q: Nick, do you want to tell her about your ’job’ at Winthrop?
N: Last year, I was an ambassador, so I was giving tours of campus to prospective students. One day, I got an email asking me if I wanted to help with a promotion— the Winthrop Night at the Charlotte Knights [baseball] event. I said, ’I’d love to go.’ I met (Women’s Head Basketball) Coach Lynette Woodard and (Associate Athletic Director) Matt Martin.
Matt asked me what I was studying. At the time, I was a sport management major, but I knew that I was switching to business. But I still had that passion for sports. He asked if I wanted to come work for them in the fall. A while later, as I was cleaning
out my wallet, I saw Matt’s business card and I remembered him offering me the position. The next day, I was here (at the Coliseum). I get to do fun stuff. I get to help come up with different marketing campaigns and ideas, and I get to do a lot of game-day stuff, like press row and the game board. I get to work in all aspects of sports.
Z: So you can just do anything!
N: (laughter) Yeah, it’s been a cool opportunity. You don’t get this experience anywhere else.…This is my office. How cool of an office is this?
Q: Zeta, what made you and Joe want to keep coming back to the Winthrop basketball games?
Z: When we first came, they (the men’s basketball team) were just getting started. If it had a ball, Joe was there. Joe