Volleyball legend Kathy Gregory has decided to retire after 38 years at the helm of the UCSB women’s volleyball program.
Gregory confirmed her decision in an email to Presidio Sports on Friday night.
“I am all set and am retiring right now,” she said in her email.
Gregory initially said she was stepping down as coach on Thursday night. On Friday morning, she contacted Presidio Sports and said she wasn’t 100 percent sure she was making the right decision and wanted to take the weekend to think on it.”
She apparently made up her mind hours later and said she is retiring from the job she’s held since 1975.
Gregory is the longest tenured coach in UCSB Athletics history.
She is a USVBA Hall of Fame member and the fifth winningest Division 1 coach of all-time. Her career record is 866-395 (.686 winning percentage).
Gregory’s teams were a reflection of her playing style: gritty, tough and tenacious.
She was as demanding on her players as she was on herself.
Kathy Hanley, her longtime beach partner who played for the Gauchos in 1976, said she brought out the best in her players.
“She is so passionate about the game,” said Hanley.
Hanley said Gregory told her she will be helping to launch a women’s sand volleyball program at UCSB.
The NCAA added beach volleyball as a women’s sport last spring.
Nicknamed “The Queen,” Gregory guided the Gauchos to 27 NCAA Tournaments, dating back to the tournament’s inception in 1981. Their last appearance was 2009. Her teams posted 20 or more victories 27 times. In 1997, her Gauchos reached the NCAA Regional Final and finished the season ranked fifth in the nation.
This year’s Gaucho team went 16-17, its first losing season since 2008. They finished with a .500 conference record (9-9) for the first time since 1988.
Gregory was named the AVCA National Coach of the Year in 1993, was a four-time AVCA West Region Coach of the Year and a seven-time Big West Coach of the Year.
While building a foundation of success at UCSB, Gregory dominated the sport on the beach as a competitor. She was named Women’s Beach Player of the Year in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1981 and 1983. During that period she captured two world championships and became only the third woman enshrined into the Volleyball Hall of Fame on Oct. 21, 1989. The first two were former Olympic team members Flo Hyman and Jane Ward.
Her competitive experience was not limited to the beach. She served as captain of the professional San Diego Breakers of the IVA, where she was a teammate of basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain. She also played on the 1968 U.S. Pan American and World Games squads. In 1997, Gregory became the 12th woman inducted into the United States Volleyball Association Hall of Fame.
Gregory has been recognized for her contributions to the advancement of women’s athletics. In 1981 she was given the Salute to Women Award for her devotion to women’s growth in sports.