KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Ahead of their first professional season, One Knoxville Sporting Club has launched a nonprofit initiative that will offer youth programs and a direct pathway to professional soccer for local players.
One Knoxville SC on Wednesday announced the nonprofit arm of the organization will be known as the ‘One Knox Collective.’ The club said on social media that all youth soccer teams and adult recreational programs run under the collective will be purpose, not profit, driven.
Beginning this year, One Knoxville will launch their own youth program through a merger between two existing local soccer clubs- Knoxville Crush FC and Knoxville Reds. One Knoxville Youth Club will offer soccer programs for children through high school ages.
The team will also field both boys and girls teams in the USL Academy, a national youth development program designed to give local players high level experience and a path to signing with professional clubs across the USL system. Through USL Academy contracts, local players could train and compete with professional senior teams while maintaining college eligibility.
One Knox will field an under-19 boys and an under-19 girls team at the USL Academy Cup in Tampa, Florida from March 30 – April 2. USL Academy in Knoxville will expand to include under-13, under-15, and under-17 age groups with fall league games against other USL youth teams.
The One Knox Collective will also house the club’s existing adult soccer recreational programs, which include over 1,300 local soccer players.
At the professional level, One Knoxville will play their first USL League One season this year. The league is considered in the third tier of American men’s pro soccer. With USL launching both a second-division professional league and a pre-professional league for women, club leadership has said that One Knoxville aims to field a women’s team in the future.
“We don’t have anything solid to say about when but we definitely want to make women’s soccer a part of the One Knox brand and that goal for us going forward,” club partner Drew McKenna said in October.
One Knoxville SC will play all 2023 home matches at the University of Tennessee’s Regal Stadium. The team plans to move into the 7,000-seat multi-use stadium in downtown Knoxville, sharing the venue with the Smokies minor league baseball team. Project leaders are planning to start construction in February with the goal of completing the structure by 2025.