Elizabethton United only E.T. team to compete in Division III

By Jon Clark
STAR Correspondent

   The Elizabethton United U16 team is Elizabethton Soccer Association's (ESA) only traveling team that enters tournament play.
   The team consists of 13 boys that came together as a team only four months ago. Head Coach Dan Cogan credits a great work ethic and strong desire as factors that have made this group of athletes "gel as a team."
   Elizabethton United is the only team in East Tennessee that is a Division III team. All the other teams are Division I or II, meaning the United team plays against teams that have a much larger base of players to draw from.
   Coach Cogan praised his team and said: "They have worked so hard at the level of competition they are facing. They have heart and desire. I'm really proud of them."
   Teams consist of 11 players, one of them the goal keeper. This means that Elizabethton United's members all get a grueling workout during a game.
   Tournament play involves at least three to four games over a two-day period and can be exhausting, taxing even the best conditioned players. And, with only two subs available, physical conditioning is vital.
   But with the small size of the team comes experience. "HUGE EXPERIENCE" cites Coach Cogan.
   United has participated in tournaments in Bristol, Knoxville, and Roanoke. A tournament in Kingsport is scheduled for October.
   Coach Cogan has over 10 years of ESA coaching, and refs tournament and high school games. The United's assistant coach, Larry Tierney, also has over 10 years of ESA coaching. Coach Tierney also refs tournament and high school games.
   When asked what his goals for the team are, Coach Tierney simply replies that he'd like to see them develop a love for the game of soccer.
   Coach Cogan also plans on continuing the players' skill development during the off-season by keeping the team together and using the indoor soccer complex in Unicoi. "These players are committed to soccer, the team, and each other," he said.
   Tournaments can cost several hundred dollars for team registration. Add to that the costs of travel, uniforms and equipment, and the financial obligation becomes substantial.
   Since competitive traveling teams are not funded by ESA, it is necessary for corporate and individual sponsors to help support the team along with dedicated parents and family members.
   One final note. Both coaches of the United team wish to express their appreciation for Victor Chirica's expertise and help with special technical and tactical training.
   Coach Cogan, commenting on Victor's soccer accomplishments, mentioned that he has had European Championship experience during his professional career in Romania and Germany.
   "He is a great help to our team and ESA," Cogan said.
   Next time: George Bush and ESA soccer.