Kathy Gregory, the head coach of UCSB women’s volleyball since the inception of the program in 1975, has decided her 38th season was her last. The 67-year-old coach disclosed her intention to retire over the weekend. UCSB has arranged for her appear at a press conference Tuesday.
“It’s just time,” Gregory said Monday in a telephone interview. “It’s harder on a coach now more than ever, with all the responsibilities and demands.” She said she had frequently thought of retirement the past several years, but until now she talked herself out of it.
“Every time we lost a match, I thought, ‘I gotta retire,’” she said. “When I was driving home from a recruiting trip to Anaheim, and it’s bumper-to-bumper-to-bumper traffic, and I hadn’t seen a single recruit giving 100 percent, I thought about retiring.”
Gregory achieved a career record of 882 wins and 412 losses, a .682 winning percentage. She is the fifth winningest Division 1 women’s volleyball coach of all time. She took the Gauchos to the NCAA tournament 27 times, including a streak of 26 consecutive appearances. They never quite made the Final Four, coming closest in 1997 when they reached the Regional Final at Stanford.
Her final team had a rare losing season (16-17) last fall. Freshman libero Taylor Formico became the 22nd All-American coached by Gregory.
As a player herself, Gregory forged a legendary career in beach volleyball. Known as “The Queen,” she won 50 tournaments from 1972 to 1988. She was inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame at Holyoke, Massachusetts, in 1989.
Gregory may be involved with UCSB athletics in the future. Women’s sand volleyball became an official NCAA sport in 2012, and Gregory said she may help get a Gaucho program started.