With the end of August comes a hectic few weeks for fall student athletes: Classes start, seasons kick off and every day feels like it’s full of excitement.

Anna Mae Messisco, a new addition to the Charlotte volleyball team, has a different kind of opening weekend ahead.

On Friday, Charlotte will host South Carolina State at 9 a.m. in the opening match of the Charlotte Invitational. That evening, the 49ers play again, this time facing Southern Utah.

Messisco will be in Salisbury, South Carolina, at her wedding rehearsal. She's getting married the next day.

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“It’s kind of a crazy story,” she explained with a laugh last week, and she’s not kidding. How many 21 year olds begin their first season with a new college volleyball team by getting married?

It all started in 2015, when Messisco went on a two-year church mission after her freshman year of college. When she returned home, she decided she wanted to play beach volleyball, a spring sport, rather than indoor volleyball, a fall sport. Besides the fact that beach is her preferred sport, the move to spring gave her a little extra time to get her schedule straightened out after her time away.

Messisco had done everything but commit to Texas A&M Corpus Christi’s beach volleyball team when, a little over a month ago, a surprise changed everything.

“The Thursday I got home from my visit is when my boyfriend proposed,” she said.

Because now-fiancée Zachary Conell is tied to the Charlotte area for the next few years, and because they didn’t want to spend their engagement or the beginning of their marriage apart, Anna Mae and Zachary decided they would figure out a new plan, one that didn't include the Lone Star state.

“Texas sounded a lot further away from Charlotte than we wanted,” Messisco said. “We decided I would stay in either North Carolina or South Carolina for school.”

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But why the hurry to get married in the first place? A month-and-a-half engagement isn’t exactly common practice.

"[Zachary] actually has a brother going to medical school in the Caribbean, and he leaves the Monday after we get married, so it’s been a super short engagement, like a month and a half," Messisco said. "We wanted his brother to be there, so we said, ‘Let’s go with the 26th, that’s the latest we can do it and he’ll still be here.’"

After all the details of one of the biggest days of her life had been plotted out, she committed to UNC-Charlotte for indoor volleyball — even though the team begins its season the day before she gets married.

Anna Mae and Zachary have a busy weekend ahead.
Anna Mae Messisco
Anna Mae and Zachary have a busy weekend ahead.
“It’s been pretty crazy,” said Messisco, whose name already is listed as "Anna Mae Connell" on the 49er's website. “It’s funny to me, seeing the team stressed out about school’s about to start, being nervous about the semester, or something’s going on with practice and weights. I’m just like, ‘Girl, you have no idea.’

“Every little second and minute is precious, trying to use it the best I can on the way to practices and lunches, I’m on the phone with the woman doing alterations on my dress, or someone about flowers and the wedding cake. It’s pretty wild.”

The 49ers’ season didn’t really leave Messisco any room for a honeymoon after her big day on Saturday, so after the reception, and a day to soak everything in on Sunday, she’ll be back grinding on the volleyball court when the week begins.

“Oh yeah," she said. "I’ll be at practice on Monday morning."

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