Story updated with more information at 8 p.m. on Nov. 21, 2019.
After making a name for himself as one of the top youth soccer coaches in the country, Jimmy Obleda said he was humbled by the opportunity to become the next head coach of the Chattanooga Red Wolves SC.
The USL League One team, which this fall completed its inaugural season, announced Obleda's hire Thursday.
Obleda reached the pinnacle of youth soccer, winning back-to-back national championships as well as a Dallas Cup title with the Fullerton Rangers in 2011 and 2012. Born in New York with professional soccer dreams, the 47-year-old coach said he is ready for a new challenge.
"The opportunity to coach at the professional level was a huge draw," said Obleda, who spent 15 years with the Rangers before helping guide the Santiago Canyon Junior College men's team for four years and most recently starting Boca OC, a youth club in Orange County, California.
"I recently flew out to Chattanooga and spent a couple of weeks here. I already love this place," Obleda said. "My wife and I sat down after the trip and agreed it was something we couldn't pass up for our family. I am ready to go and very passionate about what I do. I take it every day to heart that I get to coach this beautiful game in our amazing country."
Obleda also takes over as the technical director for the Red Wolves, who went 10-8-10, lost just once at home in 14 matches and fell just shy of making the playoffs this year while competing in Division 3 of US Soccer.
Former coach Tim Hankinson left the club in September on a paid leave of absence with assistant Dave Barrueta taking charge for the final four matches. Red Wolves officials declined to comment further on the reason for Hankinson's departure from the team.
Obleda has eight years of professional playing experience and has helped lead more than 250 youth players to the youth national team, collegiate or professional ranks.
"When people talk about me, I want them to say he is passionate and a winner," Obleda said. "I just love winning. It's what drives me to be better every day. We are in an amazing city, and we are going to work hard. Our team is going to have heart, grit, and they are going to fight when we have the ball and don't have it. Everyone will sacrifice and fight for each other."
Some of the notable players Obleda has coached and developed from the youth level to now are Marky Hernandez (Reno 1868 FC), Adrian Vera (LA Galaxy II) and Robert Coronado (Rio Grande Valley FC). He also coached current Red Wolves attacking midfielder Ami Pineda and his cousin Renaldo Pineda, who shined with the nationally renowned Rangers in Southern California.
"We actually signed Ami last year based on Jimmy's recommendation," Red Wolves general manager Sean McDaniel said. "As we connected the dots, (Red Wolves team owner) Bob Martino knew Jimmy from his time in youth soccer on the West Coast.
"Jimmy knows how to develop a player from a very young age to being a pro. He has the energy and passion for the game and people that fits exactly what we want with the Red Wolves."
The Red Wolves have already started announcing returning players for next year's team, which will begin its season in February and expects to play at a site currently under development in East Ridge after hosting matches this year at Chattanooga Christian School's David Stanton Field. Signed players include Steven Beattie, Greg Hurst, Alex Mangels, Ami Pineda, Josue Soto and Eamon Zayed.
"I am blessed to be here," Obleda said. "It's all about creating and sustaining a winning culture. To be the coach who will walk the team out to its own professional soccer stadium for the first time will be a dream moment, too. I am ready to work."