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Gretchen Hammel, shown coaching the Grace Academy girls' soccer team in September 2015, will head up the new professional women's soccer team being started by the Chattanooga Red Wolves Soccer Club. Hammel previously played for the Chattanooga Football Club's women's team and later became general manager of the CFC women.

The Chattanooga Red Wolves Soccer Club announced Friday that it has added a women's team, named the Lady Red Wolves SC, that is expected to begin participating next season in the Women's Premier Soccer League.

The new team will be run by Gretchen Hammel, who served as a player and then the general manager of the Chattanooga Football Club women's team. CFC still plans to field a women's side in 2019.

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The CFC women won eight matches in 2017, earning the Southeast Conference championship. Head coach Erin Ridley departed recently to become the girls' development academy coach with Major League Soccer's San Jose Earthquakes.

"We are proud of the Chattanooga Football Club Women's program that was founded and built over the last five years under the Chattanooga Football Club banner," CFC said in a release. "We are thankful for Gretchen Hammell's stewardship of the women's team over the last four years. The 2018 season was the best year yet with the team winning the WPSL Southeastern Conference Championship.

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"The WPSL does not offer exclusive rights to territories for teams. We remain committed to the growth of women's soccer in Chattanooga through our Women's team, CFC Academy and CFC Foundation."

Hammel was a member of CFC's first team in 2014, and when the team nearly folded a year later she worked to field a team the next season along with former team member Kristina Heredia. She has served as the general manager since.

Like the Red Wolves men, the Lady Red Wolves will play next season at Chattanooga Christian School while the franchise's new facility is being built at a location to be determined.

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"Chattanooga Red Wolves SC shares our vision for the advancement of soccer in the community," Hammel said in a news release. "Through shared resources and passions, Lady Red Wolves SC will focus on growing the game, developing elite players and delivering highly competitive women's soccer to the Chattanooga region."

According to the release, the Lady Red Wolves will operate under the Red Wolves' umbrella — sharing offices, branding, ticket solutions and facility resources.

"With the addition of Lady Red Wolves SC, we are able to amplify the Chattanooga Red Wolves SC experience," said Red Wolves owner Bob Martino. "The team is more than just an independent sector of our franchise — it's an important part of our brand and a critical piece to the development of soccer in our community."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3.

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