Several Sumner County soccer clubs are optimistic they will get the chance to compete for a state championship in Gatlinburg this summer.
Put on by the Tennessee High School Soccer Coaches Association, 40 clubs will head east towards Rocky Top July 9-11 to face off against eight of the best teams in their classifications. Of the 40 clubs, four are from Sumner County: Bison (AAA), Buccaneers (AAA), Commandos (AAA) and Hawks (A).
“Since I have been President (THSSCA), the most important thing has been making sure we give the soccer coaches a voice,” Commando coach Russ Plummer said. “When things started going sideways, and cancelations began, the Executive Committee began to make zoom calls to try and come up with a way to allow these kids to play one more time.
“Zach Shrandt (Gatlinburg-Pitman Head Coach) gets a ton of credit,” Plummer added. “He did a great job of talking with the TSSAA on what we are and are not allowed to do."
The 2020 State Championships will feature the best club teams across the state, and winning the tournament will match the emotion of winning in Murfreesboro.
“This is the only state championship that is available this year, it is the only opportunity to win something,” Plummer added. “This tournament is probably stronger than some of the state tournaments from past years. We are excited to compete.”
The Class AAA Championship Flight will feature the eight of the best teams across in the state of Tennessee as the Bison and Commandos will compete against the likes of the Mustangs (Germantown), Bruins (Brentwood), Rebels (Franklin), Dragons TTB (Collierville), Bulldogs FC (Knoxville) and Admirals FC (Knoxville).
“The moment we had our zoom meeting to discuss the season was going to be over, the devastation from the boys was apparent, especially those seniors. When I received the call to say we were going to do this (tournament), I called them first. The joy they shared was amazing. We knew we had a chance to win it all this year, and now we get the opportunity to do that,” Bison coach Jeremy Cooke said.
Cooke echoed his former colleague Russ Plummer’s sentiment, adding that this tournament guarantees the best eight teams from AAA will compete for the title.
“With TSSAA, you need to win sectionals, and sometimes the best teams lose in that round. With this, I believe we will get a true top eight,” Cooke said.
Joining the Bison will be the Buccaneers who say this tournament is the proper way to send off their seniors.
“I have not seen them this happy since this all started,” coach John Ferguson said. “To play three meaningful games against the level of competition we will face is remarkable. Before this tournament, you pondered what could have been - now we will know.”
Hawks coach Daniel Brooks says his team will approach the three-day tournament with the mindset to win.
“Ultimately, we are going there to win three games and bring home a trophy,” Brooks said. “There is a job at hand, and these guys are excited. This is an opportunity we could not pass up.
“Most seniors across the country are not getting an opportunity like this, and for our parents to see their kids play again, that is truly extraordinary.”
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.thssca.net/2020-state-championships.html.