A school official in Clarksville, Tenn., a city of about 140,000 about 50 miles northwest of Nashville, said Chism attended Rossview Middle School for three years and graduated eighth grade last May. He attended school in Boca Raton, Fla., in fifth grade, and Burt Elementary School in Clarksville in fourth grade, said Elsie Shelton, chief communications officer for the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System.
Mark Nolan coached Chism on a travel soccer team in Clarksville for two years. The team accepted players on a try-out basis only and traveled around the Nashville area, and sometimes as far away as Louisville and Lexington, Ky., to compete against other clubs and in tournaments. He said Chism did not stand out beyond being a talented young player in love with the Beautiful Game.
“He didn’t seem any different than the other kids, maybe a little more quiet. But it’s not that he didn’t talk,” said Nolan, who is president of the Clarksville Fusion travel soccer club and a local attorney. “He wasn’t the most aggressive, wasn’t the fastest. He was on the team and a good player.”
He said Chism was very passionate about the game, which he dove into out of admiration for a relative who played soccer professionally in Brazil. “He was there more than just to kick a ball,” Nolan said. “Some of the kids were there because mom and dad made them, but not him.”
Chism played defense and midfield at that time, Nolan said. However, he evolved into a capable striker by the time he moved to Danvers, teammates here said. He joined the Danvers High junior varsity soccer team and distinguished himself as a leading scorer.
Nolan had met both of Chism’s parents, and recalled the boy’s father as a very tall Army man. Fort Campbell, an Army base, straddles the Tennessee-Kentucky border near Clarksville. His mother dropped him off at practice most times because of his father’s obligations to the Army, Nolan recalled.