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Yale’s Gobrechts share special bond

- Associated Press - Thursday, March 17, 2011

NEW HAVEN, CONN. (AP) - Chris Gobrecht has been part of many senior nights in her long coaching career.

None of the previous 30 were anything like Yale's final regular season home game against Cornell on March 5 as her daughter Mady was one of the two players being honored.

Gobrecht, along with her husband Bob, walked Mady to center court.

"For 30 seconds I allowed myself to be a mom and then it was back to coaching," the 31-year veteran coach said.

Yale capped off the night with a victory over Cornell that clinched a WNIT bid for the first postseason berth in school history.

The Bulldogs will host Boston College on Thursday in the first round of the tournament.

"I wouldn't trade this for anything," Mady Gobrecht said. "To be able to turn this team around and get to the WNIT is something special."

The Gobrechts were one of four parent-daughter tandems in Division I basketball this past season. Baylor coach Kim Mulkey's daughter is a freshman on the team. Northwestern coach Joe McKeown also has his freshman daughter on his squad.

New Mexico State's Darin Spence has been coaching his daughter Madison for the past four years.

While it's much more common in men's basketball, there have been a handful of similar situations before, including Hall of Fame coach Van Chancellor.

All four coaches were adamant to let their children make their own college choices, yet all the offspring ended up playing for their parent. Mulkey's daughter Makenzie had scholarship offers from other schools, but ended up a Lady Bear.

"Well, I always pretty much knew I wanted to play for my mom, so once she came to Baylor, I was around the program a lot," Makenzie Robertson said. "I got to know everyone and how it operated. I've pretty much just have always wanted come here since we've been in Baylor."

Kim Mulkey joked she probably broke a few NCAA rules recruiting her daughter, buying her a car and giving her a weekly allowance. Makenzie will get her first taste of the NCAA tournament as a player when No. 1 seed Baylor hosts Prairie View A&M on Sunday.

Meghan's decision to attend Northwestern did have a lot to do with the family dynamic, but not so much who the coach was. Her 16-year-old brother Joey is severely autistic. One of the main reasons that Joe McKeown decided to leave George Washington to come to Northwestern three years ago was because of the medical care that his son would receive in Chicago.

"We as a family decided the best choice was to come out here to Northwestern," Joe McKeown said.

Meghan played in 16 games this season, scoring five points.

Mady Gobrecht grew up on the West Coast as her mom spent time coaching at the University of Washington, Cal State Fullerton and Southern Cal. The family didn't come to New Haven until she was a junior in high school.

"It might have been different had I grown up here, but I always found myself comparing other schools to Yale," Mady said. "It's a great education."

Her mom wouldn't have minded if she had gone to another school as long as it wasn't in the Ivy League.

"I'm not so sure I would have wanted to be writing checks to a school that we would have to play," she said smiling. "I'm just really happy it all worked out."

Even with Yale's success this season, it hasn't always been easy for the Gobrechts. The Bulldogs were 20-35 in Mady's first two years.

But Yale slowly started to turn things around. This season has been a series of firsts. The Bulldogs shocked then-No. 15 Florida State in December. Yale then went on to sweep rival Harvard for the first time in 17 years.

"There were definitely some highs and lows during the four years," said Chris Gobrecht of coaching her daughter. "You need to have the right kid, but honestly I wouldn't trade it for anything."

Bob Gobrecht said he never had to play peacemaker between his wife and daughter.

"I'm never put in the middle of it," he said. "Whenever they have arguments they end up getting their nails done and all's usually good afterwards."

Mady Gobrecht has started in 110 of the 113 games during her Yale career. The senior was a bit nervous when she was first starting as a freshman.

"I wanted to make sure that I played harder in practice and games to show everyone that I earned my starting spot and that it wasn't just because I was the coach's daughter."

Mady will finish her career among the school's career leaders in points and assists yet her mother has purposely not promoted her daughter for any weekly Ivy awards.

"I never wanted it to look like I was showing favoritism for her," Chris Gobrecht said.

At least she didn't have to worry about captaincy. Yale has a tradition of only having a single captain on each team which is decided by the players. The Bulldogs went with fellow senior Yoyo Greenfield.

"It didn't bother me at all as Mady has been a leader all the time."

While Chris Gobrecht was able to stay composed in the pregame ceremony of her daughter, Darin Spence had a tough time in New Mexico State's postgame celebration.

"I broke down watching the video of the three seniors, but really lost it when Madison's part came up," he said.

Madison Spence led the Aggies in scoring this year, averaging 13.9 points. She started in all 118 of her games at the school and finished sixth on the all-time scoring list.

"I had a blast coaching Madison for four years," said Darin Spence, who is stepping down as coach of New Mexico State. "She made it easy on me because she was such a good player and showed true ownership in our program. The only negative I ever saw was seeing Madison think, for some reason, that she had to above and beyond to prove she belonged and wasn't just here because I was the coach".

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AP Sports Writer Stephen Hawkins in Waco, Texas, contributed to this report

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