Noah Tremain has had a major impact on a dominant program since he earned a starting role as an eighth grader.
In what would have been his fifth year with the McCallie soccer team, when the season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Tremain missed out on the opportunity to help win a third state title.
The 6-foot-3 versatile playmaker scored the Blue Tornado's first goal in the first of two state championship wins as a freshman to help take down Montgomery Bell Academy for the 2017 TSSAA Division II-AA title. On May 23, 2019, his impact at center back helped carry the team to a 2-0 shutout of MBA to win the state title once again.
While well on his way to becoming McCallie's all-time winningest soccer player and having a shot at a third state championship taken away, Tremain has not let a tough hand bring him down. Instead he hopes future teams for the Big Blue can carry on an important trait.
"Nothing is more important than playing as a team," said Tremain, who won 55 games compared to just nine losses and 10 draws in a varsity career that included a 9-2 TSSAA playoff record. "I have seen it a hundred times where one individual will try to do their own thing or disagree with the coach and try to do something else. That's not the way to win.
"When a team comes together as one under the coaching staff, especially when it is led by someone as knowledgeable as Coach (Chris) Cushenbery, good things are bound to happen."
In last year's historic season, the wheels seemed to be falling off for McCallie. The team was sitting at 1-3-1 overall after losing 4-1 to Westminster (Atlanta) in a Gatlinburg tournament. However, it was at that time Wright Self noted a change in the team's demeanor and approach that changed the course of the season.
The Blue Tornado over their next three games outscored Station Camp, Hardin Valley and Maryville a combined 16-0 as they locked in to begin a 13-match streak in which they did not lose again on the way to the third state title in program history.
"Everyone on the field had the will to win," said Self, a senior and three-year starter who overcame a broken ankle he sustained during basketball season to return to the soccer field in time to shut out Baylor and win seven straight matches to end the 2019 season.
"We refused to lose," Self said. "After we fell apart in Gatlinburg, we had a team meeting and figured out the issues we had. We overcame a lot together, and to come out on top was amazing."
Heading into the 2020 season, TopDrawerSoccer.com had ranked McCallie second in the nation and tabbed four players on its preseason All-American watch list: Tremain, fellow senior Andrew Prescott and juniors Neal Carlson and Gui Vivaldini.
While defending his team's net in state championship wins as a freshman and junior, Prescott believed the Blue Tornado's team chemistry was stronger than ever.
"I truly believe this year's team would have been even more dangerous," said Prescott, who will play NCAA Division I soccer for East Tennessee State University. "I hope we will be remembered as a group of guys who pushed each other in every aspect of life, not just on the field. We tried to always play with class and be the most intense competitors at the same time."
Tremain will be attending the University of North Carolina to pursue a business degree, while Self will focus on business as well at Auburn in the fall.
With Vivaldini and Carlson back next year, the future remains bright. Vivaldini led all sophomores in the country last year by scoring 24 goals, and Carlson provided the difference in last season's state championship victory, scoring the first goal. Before this season was canceled, Vivaldini, a Brazillian striker, also produced what his teammates called a SportsCenter Top 10 goal as he dribbled through three defenders and chipped his shot over the keeper in a 2-1 win over Christian Brothers.
"The feeling of winning the big games against Baylor, MBA or a state championship can't be beat," said Tremain, who was awarded by his school as the student who most exemplified Christian character. "You chase that feeling and do everything you can to make sure your teammates know and carry that feeling, too. It was fun to drive and intensely chase our dreams."