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Chattanooga FC photo / Chattanooga Football Club goalkeepers coach Jordan Mattheiss, right, shown with head coach Rod Underwood, has been with the team through changes in leadership and the rise from amateur to pro organization.

Loyalty is all that Jordan Mattheiss knows.

His family have been members of Grace Baptist Church for as long as he can remember. His father Jon was the head coach of Grace Academy's boys' basketball program for more than 30 years before resigning from that job last month, though he remains at the school as a teacher. Jordan said his grandparents worked for "a long, long time" at Tennessee Temple, the Christian college that in 2015 shut down its Chattanooga campus and merged with a North Carolina university.

In an alternate universe, though, Mattheiss and the Chattanooga Football Club may not have been in a marriage approaching a decade in length.

He was serving as the associate head soccer coach as well sports information director at nearby Bryan College, his alma mater, when his position was cut. Mattheiss had just joined Chattanooga FC as its goalkeepers coach while working a number of odd jobs such as driving for Uber and valet parking — duties he had taken on while staying close to CFC, which was already rumored to be preparing to jump from amateur to professional competition.

Fast-forward to 2022, when Mattheis' tenure ranks him as the senior member of CFC, which became a pro club in 2020 as part of the National Independent Soccer Association. The offseason hire of Rod Underwood meant Mattheis would be working for his third CFC head coach, having lasted through eight seasons, numerous players, No. 1 rankings and an amateur national championship with the club, which lost 6-0 Wednesday to Major League Soccer's Atlanta United FC in Kennesaw, Georgia, during the third round of the U.S. Open Cup.

That loyalty has paid off.

"It's just ingrained in my family, that sense of loyalty," Mattheiss said recently. "Finding that place that you kind of believe in and what they're doing and that you're willing to invest in. Then you jump into the deep end and do the best you can to make it as good as possible and the best that you can make it. You've put all your time and effort into doing everything you can — even the small things — to make things as good as possible."

The irony is this wasn't necessarily supposed to be a full-time job. With CFC playing in the amateur ranks, the schedule worked out great for Mattheiss initially, and it felt almost like a summer gig. He was going to be a volunteer, but one with a wealth of experience as a keeper, because he was once the young kid who wanted to play that position minding the net — as opposed to being out on the field to score goals, the ambition of most 3- and 4-year olds.

But with the growth of CFC and its entry into the NISA, it has become a lot more than that. Mattheiss has overseen the development of keepers such as Greg Hartley, Phil D'Amico, Alec Redington and currently Kevin Gonzales. Most importantly to Mattheiss, he's done so his hometown.

Save for his time at Bryan in nearby Dayton, he has always lived in Chattanooga, and he has seen the rise of soccer in the city, aided in part by CFC.

"The sport of soccer in this city is always a big thing because when I was growing up, there wasn't much to watch or strive for," he said. "Now little kids can come out of the academy because there's a pro team to strive to be part of. We're bringing on amateurs to try to help push that side of it as well, so there's just a lot more in the world of football for kids to strive for than there was when I was playing."

CFC (1-1-2, 0-0-2 against NISA competition) will return to action by hosting Flower City Union on April 30 at Finley Stadium.

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

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