With head coaching credentials that include stops at women’s basketball powers in the Pac-12 and the Atlantic Coast Conference, Chris Gobrecht came to Yale in 2005 with a reputation for turning programs around. During her nine seasons as the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball, Gobrecht has restored Yale's status as one of the premier women's basketball programs in the Ivy League.
With Gobrecht at the helm, Yale's standing as an annual contender for the Ivy League championship has intensified over the last five seasons. Gobrecht coached the Bulldogs to 56 wins in the last four seasons, tied for the second-most wins in a four-year stretch since Yale's Class of 1980 won a total of 57 games. Under Gobrecht's leadership, Yale has also recorded the top two marks for most Ivy League wins in a four-year span with 34 Ivy victories set by the Class of 2013 and 33 wins set by the Class of 2014.
The ninth coach in the 41-year history of Yale women's basketball, Gobrecht enters the 2014-15 season, her 10th season at Yale and 35th season as a head coach (all at the Division I level), with an overall career record of 529-458 (.536), ranking her 23rd among active coaches in career Division I victories. Gobrecht has more career Division I victories than any other active basketball coach in the Ivy League, men or women.
“I believe Yale is one of the finest institutions in the world, and to be involved with this university is a privilege,” Gobrecht said upon her arrival in New Haven. “I think my career has been leading up to this.”
During her tenure at Yale, Gobrecht has coached 26 players that earned Ivy League postseason awards, including two Ivy League Rookies of the Year (Sarah Halejian, 2011-12; Melissa Colborne, 2006-07), five All-Ivy First Team honorees (Halejian, 2013-14 & 2012-13; Megan Vasquez, 2011-12 & 2010-11; Colborne, 2007-08; Erica Davis, 2006-07), three All-Ivy Second Team honorees (Colborne, 08-09; Michelle Cashen, 09-10, Mady Gobrecht, 10-11), six All-Ivy Honorable Mention players (Vasquez, 2012-13; Janna Graf, 2012-13; Chinenye Okafor, 05-06 & 06-07; Cashen, 10-11 & 11-12), five All-Ivy Rookie Team players (Graf, 10-11; Vasquez, 09-10; Cashen, 08-09; Lindsay Williams, 07-08; Colborne 06-07) and seven Ivy League Academic Team honorees (Graf, 13-14; Cashen, 11-12; Cashen, 10-11; Haywood Wright, 09-10; Jamie Van Horne, 08-09; Stephanie Marciano, 07-08; Davis, 06-07). Prior to Gobrecht’s arrival in the Elm City, a Bulldog player had not earned All-Ivy League First Team accolades since Katy Grubbs following the 1997-98 campaign.
Gobrecht also coached two players who competed on the international level in Megan Vasquez, who was a part of Puerto Rico's attempt to qualify for the 2012 Olympics, and Janna Graf, who led Germany's U-20 squad to a second-place finish in the European Championships. Gobrecht's tenure also included Yale's 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th 1,000-point scorers in the program's history in Vasquez, Davis, Colborne, Graf and Halejian.
Yale posted its fifth straight top-four finish in the Ivy League in 2013-14 with a 7-7 mark in Ivy play, while posting an overall mark of 13-15. Gobrecht became just the second coach in program history to record 100 victories at Yale with a victory at Columbia on Jan. 31, 2014. The Bulldogs ranked third in the Ivy League in scoring (65.6 ppg), while leading the league in turnover margin (+3.5) and turnovers caused (18.4). The season was highlighted by a pair of individual achievements. Senior Janna Graf became the 18th player in program history to score 1,000 career points when she scored 17 points at Kansas. Junior guard Sarah Halejian led the league in assists (3.6) and steals (2.4) en route to earning All-Ivy League First Team honors for a second time. Halejian became the 19th to score 1,000 career points when she reached the plateau against Princeton.
In 2012-13, the 40th season in the history of women's basketball at Yale, Gobrecht Yale to a 13-15 overall finish and an 8-6 fourth-place finish in Ivy League play. The season saw Yale finish third in the Ivy League in scoring (64.3 ppg.) and first in the Ivy League in 3-pointers made per game (7.0) and 3-point field goal defense (.252, 87-for-345). Yale was the only Ivy League team to allow fewer than 100 3-pointers. The season also included a historic night for Halejian, who scored a career-high 29 points on 12-of-15 shooting in the 69-66 loss at Harvard on Feb. 23, 2013, including a perfect 4-for-4 from 3-point range. The 29 points, 12 made field goals and 80.0 field-goal percentage are all the second-highest marks in Yale's record books.
The Bulldogs enjoyed their most successful season under Gobrecht's leadership in 2011-12, finishing with a 16-12 record and an 8-6 mark in Ivy League play in a season that included Yale's first-ever meeting with the nation's top-ranked team (No. 1 Baylor, Nov. 22, 2011). It was their winningest season since a 16-10 finish in 1993-94 and the third straight season with at least eight Ivy League victories. The season included several milestones, including Gobrecht's 500th career victory and the 1,000th career point for Vasquez, both of which happened on Feb. 10, 2012, against Cornell. Gobrecht also saw Halejian win six Ivy League Rookie of the Week awards during the season, tying a Yale record held by Melissa Colborne (2007) and Katy Grubbs (1996) for the most Rookie of the Week awards by a Yale player in a single season. Yale finished the season second in the Ivy League in scoring (65.6 points per game) and led the Ivy League in assists (13.9 assists per game), turnover margin (+4.36), and 3-pointers per game (6.4).
In 2010-11, Gobrecht guided the Bulldogs to their first-ever appearance in the Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) to cap off a successful season. The Bulldogs finished with a 14-15 overall record, which, until 2011-12, was Yale's highest win total since the 2001-02 season (14-13). Gobrecht coached the Bulldogs to the biggest win in program history, a 91-85 win over then-No. 14 Florida State. It was Yale's first win over a nationally ranked opponent in the program's 38-year history. She followed that historic victory by guiding the Bulldogs to a 10-4 finish in Ivy League play, which matched the most wins for Yale in League play (10-4, 1988-89). The 2010-11 Ivy League season included Yale's first sweep of Harvard since the 1993-94 season, which helped the Bulldogs finish in second place in the Ivy League standings for the first time since 1988-89, clinching the Ivy League's automatic berth in the WNIT.
In 2009-10, Gobrecht guided the Bulldogs to a 13-15 finish, the highest win total since the 14 victories in the 2001-02 season. Yale closed the 2009-10 campaign with an 8-6 record in Ivy League play, the best conference record since the 2001-02 season. It was the second time that Yale finished as high as fourth place in the Ivy League since 2001-02.
After posting a 3-24 mark in her first season with the Bulldogs, Coach Gobrecht led the team to 12 wins in the 2006-07. The nine-win improvement was one of the best in Division I that season. The 2006-07 season was highlighted by a six-game winning streak and a 15-point victory over a Marist squad that would reach the Regional Semifinals (Sweet 16) of the NCAA Tournament. Yale was also the only Ivy League team to defeat league champion Harvard. In 2007-08, Gobrecht led the Bulldogs to a 7-7 record and fourth-place finish in the Ivy League, their best conference finish since 2001-02.
Though the 2008-09 Bulldog squad was hampered by a multitude of injuries, Gobrecht led her team to an 11-17 record, the team’s second-highest win total in the past seven seasons. 2008-09 also featured a landmark victory for the program over North Carolina State, Yale’s first win over an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent. Gobrecht also reached a milestone 450th career coaching win last season.
After turning around the Cal State Fullerton program, Gobrecht moved on to the University of Washington. In 11 years, her teams went to the NCAA Tournament on nine occasions. The Huskies reached the NCAA Regional Semifinals four times during her tenure, and advanced to the Regional Finals (Elite Eight) in 1990. She won at least 16 games every year at Washington, including eight 20-win campaigns (six consecutive), and is the Huskies’ all-time winningest coach with 243 victories. Washington won three conference championships and finished second four times during her tenure. A two-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year, Gobrecht led Washington to a school-record 28 wins and a number-three national ranking in 1989-90. The Huskies were the only team to beat eventual NCAA Champion Stanford that season.
“My observation of Chris goes back to my days in the Pac-10 when I saw how well she developed the program at the University of Washington,” said Yale Athletic Director Tom Beckett. “She did a great job with the Huskies, and now she’s a Bulldog. We think it’s an absolutely perfect connection, and it’s definitely the right move for us.”
After 11 years at Washington, Gobrecht took over a struggling Florida State program in 1996. The Seminoles went 5-22 in Gobrecht’s only season before she left Tallahassee to take over at her alma mater, Southern California.
With USC’s win over Pepperdine on Dec. 4, 2002, Gobrecht became the 33rd active coach to reach the 400-win mark. In seven seasons with the Women of Troy, Gobrecht posted a 95-108 record. USC posted three winning seasons during her tenure, including a 15-13 mark in her final year, 2003-04. Two of her recruiting classes were ranked among the best in the country, and her teams regularly faced some of the best competition in the nation, including Pac-10 rival Stanford. In 2002-03 alone, the Women of Troy faced three of the previous four national champions: Connecticut, Tennessee and Notre Dame.
Gobrecht began her Division I coaching career with a struggling Cal State Fullerton program in 1979-80. She coached the Titans for six seasons, posting an 84-82 record. She led Cal State Fullerton to an 18-12 record in her third season on the job. In the 1984-85 season, Gobrecht’s last with Cal State Fullerton, the Titans posted a 19-11 record and made their first appearance in the WNIT, making her a finalist for national Coach of the Year honors.
She served as an assistant for a USA Basketball select team that played in Czechoslovakia and Italy in 1990. In addition, six of Gobrecht’s former players have played professionally in the WNBA and ABL.
Her coaching career began in 1978 at Santa Fe Springs (Calif.) High School, where her team went 20-4 and made the CIF AAA playoffs. The next year, Gobrecht led Pasadena City College to a 25-5 record, a conference championship and second place in the state junior college tournament.
A Toledo, Ohio native and a graduate of Huntington Beach (Calif.) High School, Gobrecht earned a bachelor’s degree in public affairs from USC in 1977. Then known by her maiden name of Chris Geiger, she was a three-year starter for the Women of Troy from 1974-76 and also played two seasons of volleyball at USC. After graduation, she spent a year volunteering in the Peace Corps, where she worked as an English teacher at St. Mary’s College in Apia, Western Samoa.
She and her husband, Bob, the President and Managing Director of Special Olympics North America, have two children, Eric and Madeline. Eric is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and a recent graduate of the Air Force's flight school. A Captain, he is a C-5M pilot stationed in Dover, Del. In October 2011, Eric married Catherine Cheney, a 2010 graduate of Yale. Mady graduated from Yale in 2011 after four standout seasons on the women's basketball team. She is currently a math teacher and the head coach of the varsity girls basketball team at St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Austin, Tex.