Sudden departure of Coach Chris Gobrecht a “complete surprise” to Yale women’s basketball players

AP Photo/Mel Evans

 

Women’s college basketball around here usually takes a back seat to the successes of the program at the University of Connecticut, which has just won another NCAA national title. But, although played on a different level, it is still a pretty good product at the other colleges in the state. So it came as a big disappointment to one of those teams, Yale, which just lost its well established and highly regarded coach, Chris Gobrecht.

After ten years in the Ivy League, Gobrecht will move on to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Following protocol, the first announcement of the move did not come from Yale but from the Academy, through Jim Knowlton, the Athletic Director for the Falcons.

Chris Gobrecht
Players loved playing for Gobrecht, who led the Bulldogs for 10 seasons. (Yale Athletics Photo)

In the Air Force announcement, Gobrecht said “It is very difficult for me to leave Yale University, and in particular, difficult to leave a team that I love and one I believe is destined for great success in the Ivy League next year and for years to come.”

The Bulldogs’ outgoing captain, Sarah Halejian, told the Yale Daily News that they were informed by Gobrecht of her decision at a team meeting on Tuesday (April 14), and it came as a “complete surprise” to team members.

Gobrecht’s daughter, Mady, starred at Hamden Hall then played for her at Yale

Gobrecht not only coached at Yale, but during her 10 seasons enjoyed having her daughter, Mady, as one of her players, starting with the 2007-08 season. They became the first mother-daughter coach-player combination in Yale history.

Prior to Yale, Mady attended Hamden Hall, where she was the school’s MVP and Athlete of the Year as a senior, won the New Haven Tap Off Club’s Scholar-Athlete Award, and also played lacrosse and volleyball.

By a strange coincidence, Mady’s brother, Eric Gobrecht, was on the water polo team and graduated in 2009 from Air Force, the same place where their mother will now be coaching.

The Yale Daily News said that one of the players, Nyasha Sargu, understands that Gobrecht has asked her assistant coaches to join her at Air Force.

What she leaves behind and what lies ahead

Gobrecht will have a major rebuilding job at the Academy in Colorado Springs. She succeeds Andrea Williams, whose teams in five seasons had only 22 wins against 128 losses. However, rebuilding is not a new challenge for Gobrecht, who now goes from the Ivy League to the Mountain West Conference.

At Yale, she took a team with three consecutive losing Ivy seasons and in seven of the last eight her Bulldogs had at least a 0.500 winning percentage. In 2010-11 Yale tied Harvard for second place with a 10-4 record and played in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (NIT).

Yale’s AD and two players’ reactions

Tom Beckett, Yale’s Athletic Director, in an email to the student paper, said “Coach Chris Gobrecht has been an exceptional leader and role model as the head coach of the Yale women’s basketball program. We are extremely proud of her work with the women of Yale basketball and her countless contributions to our department and the entire Yale community.”

Outgoing captain Sarah Halejian said: “Obviously everyone was super upset … but the future is still very bright.”

Returning player Meredith Boardman said: “(Gobrecht) was one of the only ones that was completely transparent throughout the whole (recruiting) process, so that is something that I have always really admired in her. It’s sad, but I know that she is going to do great things and I just feel lucky to have played for her.”

Now, the returning and incoming players will hope for more of the same under a new coach, whoever that may be.

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