August 2, 2012

The Veteran: Jennings is Golden

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Carin (Jennings) Gabarra, a UCSB alumnus and current head coach of the U.S. Naval Academy's women's soccer team, has had a prolific career. She was an Olympian and was a forward for the U.S. national team for nine years, from 1987-1996.

She is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame (2000), the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame (2004) and the UCSB Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame. Since taking up her post as head coach of the Midshipmen, she has turned the team from a club level organization into a competitive Division I force. And before all that, she was a Gaucho.

Gabarra graduated from UCSB in 1987 with a bachelor's degree in business management, but not before becoming one of the greatest Gauchos of all-time. A four-time All-American at UCSB – in addition to the four such accolades she earned in high school – Gabarra still holds the top spot in every offensive category in UCSB's record book.

She scored 102 goals during her college career, a national record that has only been surpassed by Mia Hamm since she set it. She was named UCSB's Woman Athlete of the Decade in 1987 and its Athlete of the Decade in 1991, the same year she was inducted into the school's Intercollegiate Hall of Fame. In 2000, Soccer America named her to its college team of the century. 

Her career at UCSB helped launch a national career that saw her accomplish feats that few, if any, can claim to have matched. As a member of the U.S. National Team, she competed in two FIFA Women's World Cups, including the first one ever played in 1991, during which she scored six goals to help the team claim the title. For her efforts, she received the Golden Ball Award, given to the tournament champion's most valuable player. In 1996, inspired and motivated by their loss to Norway in the semifinals of the 1995 World Cup, she helped lead the U.S. team to Olympic gold in the first Olympic women's soccer tournament.

Though Gabarra retired from international competition in 1997, she has continued to have an impact on women's soccer. Under her leadership, Navy has recorded sixteen consecutive winning seasons, has held at least a share of the Patriot League title six times, and has made the NCAA Tournament three times.

Nearly three decades after beginning her career as a Gaucho, Gabarra is still using the playing skills and leadership qualities she developed as a Gaucho and as a member of the U.S. National Team to train a new generation of athletes, and it is clear that her impact and legacy in the soccer world will be felt for a long time.