Matthews, NC - The Charlotte Eagles announced the signings of Jacob Coggins and Chris Lemons today, pending USSF approval. The two are reunited with Hall of Fame Coach Mark Steffens in 2009 after spending the 2008 season in the USL First Division with the Carolina Railhawks.
Both players were major contributors to the Eagles squads that went to three straight USL-2 Championship Finals in 2004, 2005 and 2006, and are welcome additions to the 2009 squad that looks to defend its 2008 Regular Season Title.
For Jacob Coggins, it is a fresh start in his hometown of Charlotte where he has seen much success after a challenging 2008 season with the Railhawks. The former Independence High School standout in Charlotte, NC, Coggins grew under the direction of Mark Steffens while with the Eagles. The growth process lead to the 6’4" forward becoming a feared target in the USL-2 as he claimed the MVP award in 2004 and 2005. He then went on to win the USL-2 Scoring Title in 2007 for the third time in just four years.
His success was not only noticed in the USL-2, but also in programs around the country. That success lead to time with the U.S. National Team in 2004 as well as time in Major League Soccer, and eventually a contract in the USL First Division with the Carolina Railhawks in 2008. Coggins showed great promise early on, but then played limited time as the Railhawks missed the playoffs and saw the coaching tenure of Scott Schweitzer come to an end.
If preseason play is any indication, then Coggins and the Eagles should be excited about the 2009 season with Jacob back in Eagles orange. It took just 5 minutes into Charlotte’s first pre-season exhibition with the Cleveland City Stars last Friday for Coggins to find the net as the Eagles defeated the City Stars 3-1.
Although 2008 did not turn out quite as expected, the Charlotte native’s outlook on things has been very positive. A big part of that was the birth of Jacob and his wife Mandy’s first child, Caleb last fall. "I was really thankful for the opportunity I had last year, even though it did not quite turn out as I expected," said Coggins. "The Railhawks were very kind to be so flexible with my time as I was able to travel back to Charlotte each week and be with my wife through the pregnancy. It was a challenging time, but I know I’ve grown so much as a person and a player through it all. Now being a father and being able to play again with the Eagles where I feel very much at home and see my family every day, I couldn’t think of a better situation for me and my family."
In addition to playing for the Eagles, Coggins will continue to be a leader off the field as he will be helping to run several camps in the community. Those responsibilities will include being the Finishing Director for the Charlotte Eagles Elite Player Camp in July.
Joining Coggins in the Charlotte reunion will be Chris Lemons who has been a major contributor to a number of teams over the past several years. After spending time in the First Division with the Virginia Beach Mariners, Lemons came to Charlotte in 2004 where he was a mainstay in the starting lineup. It was an amazing half volley scored by Lemons in overtime of the 2004 playoffs against Wilmington that helped the Eagles through to the USL-2 Final. Lemons continued his success with the team in 2005 as he helped lead the Eagles to the USL-2 Championship Title, and a third straight appearance in the Final in 2006.
In 2007, Lemons found himself in Cleveland with the expanision City Stars. It was a season that yet again saw Lemons lead a team to success as the City Stars advanced to the playoffs in their first year of USL-2 play. His play also was noticed by coaches at other levels, and the Railhawks signed him in 2008. While with the Railhawks, Chris became a regular in the starting lineup for Carolina as a defender where he played 21 games with 1,298 minutes.
Lemons will also continue to share his passion for the community and youth as he will be coaching with Eagles’ partner CHAMP sports. Chris will also be a liason to other coaches at CHAMP, as the Eagles continue their Coca-Cola Complete Coach program that helps volunteers become better coaches and life influencers.
"Chris and Jacob are two very special players," remarked Coach Mark Steffens. "Jacob is a gifted forward that any coach would love to have as a target up front, and Chris is such a versatile player that can really play anywhere on the field. They are the kind of players that you love to have because of the ability, and the character that each of them possess. We are really blessed to have them back for us in a league that continues to get better and better each year, and a community that we are passionate about helping to impact."
Coggins and Lemons will continue their 2009 campaigns with the Eagles today at Blackbaud Stadium as the Charleston Battery host Charlotte for a pre-season friendly exhibition.
The Charlotte Eagles open their 2009 USL-2 Regular Season against the Wilmington Hammerheads on April 25th at 2pm at Charlotte Christian Stadium. Season Tickets are on sale now www.CharlotteEagles.com. Individual Tickets go on sale later this week.