This time last year, Damian Rodriguez was a Dalton High School senior gearing up for his final run with the Catamounts soccer team. On Monday, the midfielder became a professional soccer player. The Chattanooga Football Club signed Rodriguez, who won two state championship at Dalton, to a professional contract.

“I’m excited and blessed to start my professional career at a great club with an amazing fan base. I’m grateful to my coaches, family and friends for always trusting and supporting me,” said Rodriguez.

Not only will Rodriguez play professional soccer but he will be a college student as well. As part of the contract he will receive an educational stipend to pursue his college studies. Continuing his education on and off the field was important for the club and the Rodriguez family.

Rodriguez has risen through the ranks of the greater Chattanooga soccer scene. His young career includes time with both the Chattanooga FC Academy, youth soccer programs sponsored by the professional club, and more recently with the North Georgia Soccer Academy, where his team won two state cups.

“This is an exciting day for CFC, the North Georgia Soccer Academy and for the sport of soccer in our community," said Jeremy Alumbaugh, Chattanooga FC's managing director. "Damian has proven over the last almost 18 months that he has the ambition, discipline and talent to pursue this opportunity. For a club like CFC to be able to help Damian pursue his dream of becoming a professional player and pursue his college education at the same time is a major step forward as we look to grow opportunities for youth players in the community.”

Founded in 2009, Chattanooga FC competes in the National Independent Soccer Association and plays home games in the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Finley Stadium.

“We are so proud and excited for Damian signing with CFC,” said Kerem Daser, the executive director of the North Georgia Soccer Academy. “Damian is a great role model for our younger players. He was the ultimate winner here and one of the hardest-working players I have ever worked with. He is so competitive and has super skills and is so explosive. NGSA Nation wish him the best at CFC.”

Rodriguez was selected to train with Chattanooga FC for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, and fought to earn a starting spot by the end of the 2021 season.

“We are thrilled that Damian is continuing his career with us,” said Rod Underwood, Chattanooga FC's head coach. “He is a high-energy, high-tempo guy who doesn't quit, and he will continue to flourish here. We are so proud of our youth development program, and this proves that there is a path for our young players to play at a professional level."

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