Chattanooga FC marked an important milestone in its celebration of its 15th season of existence by the announcement of the first three inductees into the club's Hall of Legends.
Thomas Clark, Bill Elliot and Jose "Zeca" Ferraz were the first three influential individuals chosen by the supporter owners.
The announcement was made at halftime of Chattanooga FC's 2023 NISA semifinal against Flower City Union at Finley Stadium on Sunday, November 5.
The selection committee of men and women considered over 20 potential nominees before narrowing them down to six finalists from both the CFC Men's and CFC Women's teams. The club's 3,200 supporter owners received the opportunity to vote in order to determine the three inductees.
A permanent display inside Finley Stadium will be unveiled near the beginning of the 2024 season.
"In celebration of our 15th season as a club, we felt that it was time to celebrate so many of the wonderful people who have made up our organization, on and off the field," said CFC co-founder and chairman Paul Rustand, who served on the selection committee. "It is our privilege to announce this first ever class to our Hall of Legends!"
The key considerations for the selection committee were the following: impact and significance, longevity and consistency, enduring legacy, achievements and honors, integrity and contributions beyond performance, contribution and innovation on the field, popularity and fan support and peer recognition.
Club CEO Alton Byrd had this to say on the momentous occasion:
“Only clubs with a rich history like Chattanooga Football Club can support a Hall of Legends. Even as we build to the future of this great organization, we all recognize there were greats who came before us. Congratulations to this first class. I look forward to seeing this wall grow with future classes to come."
Thomas Clark was the driving force behind the founding of Chattanooga FC. Playing on an amateur team in the newly formed summer league, the National Premier Soccer League, in Birmingham during 2008, Thomas came to believe that Chattanooga needed a team. His idea and efforts brought together eight other co-founders and Chattanooga FC was born in early 2009.
Thomas not only helped to found the Chattanooga Football Club and play on the team from 2009 to 2011, but he has served as a very active board member from 2009 to the present. Thomas was part of the 2010 team that won the club’s very first NPSL Southeast Conference Championship and would advance to the club’s first National Championship later that same year.
One of Clark’s most memorable moments with the club would be when he scored the first goal in the 54th minute of the 2010 national semifinal match against the Madison 56ers (that goal would prove to
be the game winner).
Thomas played soccer for the Air Force Academy and ran track & field from 1999-2003. He is married and has three daughters. Thomas works as a real estate developer and investor at FTC
“It is absolutely fitting that Thomas is in this first cohort of nominees. He brought the idea of the team that became CFC to town, was a player on the original team, and has been a valuable member of the managing board since then. Simply put, without Thomas there would be no Chattanooga FC. Everyone who loves our club owes him a huge debt of gratitude.”
Chattanooga Mayor, CFC co-founder and Chairman Emeritus Tim Kelly
Bill Elliott served as Head Coach of Chattanooga FC from 2012 to 2018. In 2019, under his own recommendation he served as co-head coach with Peter Fuller. In 2020, Elliott decided to become technical director for the club while Peter Fuller moved into the role of head coach.
During his time as head coach, Elliott led the club to seven NPSL Southeast Conference Championships, three NPSL South Region Championships and three NPSL National Finalist trophies.
Under his leadership in 2015, CFC won the USASA National Amateur Championship (the Hank Steinbrecher Cup). Elliott had an impressive career record of 97W - 28T - 34L during which he won 13 trophies for the club. He also received the NPSL’s 2014 Alexander Arellano Memorial Trophy after leading Chattanooga to the national title game.
Bill has coached both Men’s and Women’s soccer at the University of West Florida since 1996, and has an incredibly storied and successful career there.
Elliott earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1991 and a master’s in recreation and sports management in 1993 from the University of Tennessee. He also played NCAA Division I soccer
for the Volunteers. Before his college career, Elliott played at Hixson High School in Chattanooga, TN where he led his team to a second place finish in the state as a senior captain.
Elliott also played Division III professional soccer in the United States Interregional Soccer League as a member of the Chattanooga Express. He helped lead the Express to a runner-up finish at the 1993-
94 Indoor Soccer National Championships. Elliott holds the NSCAA Advanced National Diploma and a USSF A License.
He lives in Pensacola with his wife Chrissy, and they have two children, Peyton and Trey.
"Without Bill Elliott Chattanooga FC would not be where it is today. He invested his heart and soul into the club and the community for 12 seasons. We are so grateful for his integrity and his character both on
and off the field. We cannot thank him enough for what
he has meant to the club over the years."
Sheldon Grizzle, CFC Co-Founder and Board Member
Jose “Zeca” Ferraz is a native of Belo Horizonte, Brazil and played with the club from 2013 to 2021. Zeca played on teams that won five NPSL Southeast Conference titles, three NPSL South Region titles and Zeca played in two NPSL National Championships (2014-2015). He was also a member of the 2020 NISA Independent Cup winning team (Southeast Region).
Most notably, Zeca was on the 2015 USASA National Amateur Championship team that won the Hank Steinbrecher Cup. From 2013 to 2019 he had 20 goals and 15 assists with the amateur CFC teams. Some of his most famous goals came in friendlies, and those included a header that tied CFC 1-1 with FC Dallas of MLS in early 2018, along with his late goal against La Liga’s Real Betis in 2019 to close out CFC’s loss at just 4-3.
Ferraz is fourth on the list of all time CFC scorers with 24 goals, and has 19 assists to his name as well. He and fellow striker Luke Winter and midfielder Juan Hernandez are the only players who have played eight seasons with Chattanooga FC.
Zeca would be one of a few players to go on and play for Chattanooga FC as a professional in 2020.
Zeca was also part of Chattanooga FC Academy, helping to coach for the first time in the summer of 2013 while playing with the NPSL team. He continued to coach with CFC Camps in the summers until 2016 when he made Chattanooga his home and began more dedicated coaching with the Academy. Since then he has coached boys ranging from ages 12 to 15 all the way up to the present.
During his college years, Zeca attended and played soccer at Christian Brothers University for four years, playing in 74 matches and accumulating 49 goals and 9 assists.
Zeca is married and lives in Chattanooga. He is currently working as a Civil Engineer at Chattanooga Engineering Group.
“Zeca is a passionate person and has always represented the club with this passion on and off the field. His work rate and dedication to the game has been admirable over the years, and it has always been really encouraging to play with him. And to see this same mentality and passion being poured into his relationships and life off the field is even better.”
Juan Hernandez, CFC Performance Coach
About Chattanooga Football Club
Chattanooga Football Club was founded in 2009. The CFC Men's team competes in the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA), which is in the third division of professional soccer. The CFC Women's team is a summer amateur team that competes in the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL). Chattanooga Football Club became the first soccer club to offer true ownership to the fans in 2019 with 3,200+ investors from Chattanooga, all 50 states, and 31 countries. CFC plays all home games in Finley Stadium in Chattanooga.