008 – Chattanooga FC with Sheldon Grizzle
A scenario is playing out across the American soccer landscape. It’s synonymous to many of the cultural battles we’re seeing across society, and a plot worthy of place on the big screen. One where the people are pitted against capitalism. One where communities are pitted against corporations. And I unknowingly walked right into the middle of it, at the worst possible moment for those involved.
A year ago, when I started this podcast, I wanted to profile owners and GMs of teams from across the country. Thanks to my FC Dallas themed podcast, I had watched as a small NPSL team from Tennessee fought MLS side FC Dallas to a 1-1 draw in the preseason of 2018. So, I reached out.
That team is Chattanooga FC.
Little did I know that my reaching out to them coincided with them learning of the founding of a new team in Chattanooga, funded by owners outside of Tennessee, and who would be competing in a league higher in the US hierarchy than them. Not only that, but this new team had hired away the staff member I was attempting to interview.
Not surprisingly, I was asked to wait for an interview. Well, it’s been almost a year since then, and in that time Chattanooga FC has made national news for both its on-the-field and off-the-field triumphs! They’ve played international friendlies against elite teams from La Liga and Guatemala (and held their own, I might add). They’ve also run a wildly successful ownership campaign.
Recently, I was able to chat with Chattanooga FC co-founder and president, Sheldon Grizzle. What I learned from him was that despite all of the drama, the real story of Chattanooga FC is the community they’re building and the support that their community returns to them.