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Concorde Fire established among nation’s soccer elite
by Greg Oshust
July 30, 2013 03:53 PM | 2286 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Samantha M. Shal<br>
Concorde Fire goalkeeper Rosemary Chandler, a Buckhead resident, dives to make a save during practice at the soccer club’s Ashford Dunwoody Road practice field.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal
Concorde Fire goalkeeper Rosemary Chandler, a Buckhead resident, dives to make a save during practice at the soccer club’s Ashford Dunwoody Road practice field.
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Whenever a standout soccer player emerges from metro Atlanta, chances are he or she developed his or her skills as a member of the Concorde Fire soccer club.

The organization, which features a large number of Northside players, has emerged as one of the top youth soccer clubs in the nation over the past decade.

The club was created by then-Lovett boys’ coach Bill Hollemon in 1982 as the Concorde Soccer Association and merged with Atlanta Fire in 2003 to create Concorde Fire.

Now, about 2,000 players participate in Concorde’s various competitive and recreational teams.

In addition to the club’s central branch — which includes its main fields on Ashford Dunwoody Road — it also has a north branch located in north Fulton and a south branch in Fayetteville.

A large portion of Concorde’s players have earned scholarships on the NCAA Division I level as well as spots in the various U.S. national age group to play in international competition.

“Over the years, the hard work of everybody — from the kids to the coaching staff to the directors — everybody has done a great job and have moved the club in the direction that we needed to go,” said Gregg Blasingame, Concorde’s executive director since 2000. “[The goal is] to develop kids, not just at the elite level, but at all levels and to be able to offer a little competition. That was the purpose — not to be just an elite club, but we wanted to offer the community a place where any level of player can play and actually enjoy the game. That was our purpose and things worked out pretty well.”

Concorde is establishing a strong presence on the college level, with 103 players signing letters-of-intent over the last three years — including 49 this year — as well as 20 more making verbal commitments for 2014 and ’15.

“It’s a good accomplishment for those kids and all the coaches worked hard and all the kids worked hard to put themselves in that position,” Blasingame said.

Goalkeeper Rosemary Chandler is among those Division I commitments, with the Buckhead resident committing to Penn State.

Chandler — a rising junior at Westminster, who doesn’t play on the school’s girls’ soccer team — also recently earned a spot on the U.S. national under-18 women’s soccer team.

She will be joining the U18 team in early August at its training camp in Carson, Calif., where players will be evaluated and will scrimmage against the Los Angeles Strikers of the professional W-League.

“It’s a huge honor,” Chandler said. “There will be 24 of us going out there and I’m the only girl from Georgia, so it’s definitely a big deal.”

Adding to Concorde stature among the nation’s elite clubs is its membership in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy for the boys and Elite Clubs National League for the girls — the only youth soccer program in the state that is a part of the top two elite player development organizations in the country.

“I think the reason why we we’ve been asked to play in those leagues is because of the history of our overall tradition and of the kids’ hard work out on the field,” Blasingame. “Georgia players are continually developing at a national level and Georgia is identified as one of the hotbeds of developing soccer players. From that standpoint, we obviously feel really honored to be asked to play in both leagues.”

Concorde president Larry Lord, who has been the biggest figure in the organization’s development over the past two decades, said the club will continue to develop and grow.

“We would like to continue to improve our delivery of soccer — for the players and the parents and the community,” Lord said. “We’re recognized as one of the top clubs in the country and this was one of our original mission statements, that we wanted to do that. We want every kid who really wants to play soccer to have the opportunity to play soccer. Even if they never become a big soccer player, at least they develop a sustainable interest in soccer.”
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