Gretchen Koehler Inducted 2005
One of the most beloved coaches in the history of the Gustavus women's athletics program, Gretchen Koehler brought a great sense of humor, balanced perspective, and passion to her coaching from 1968 to 1996. When Koehler started in 1968, she taught in the physical education department and served as head coach of the volleyball and basketball teams. In 1969, she added softball, and then in 1973, Koehler became the head tennis coach. She compiled an all-time mark of 18—18 in softball (1969—1973), a mark of 79—71 in basketball (1968—1978), and a career mark of 27—17 in tennis (1973—81).
While Koehler was successful in all her coaching endeavors, she experienced the most success with the volleyball program, where she compiled an all-time record of 548—353—10 from 1968 to 1996. When Koehler retired from coaching in 1996, she ranked as the fifth-winningest coach in the history of Division III volleyball. In 1975, Koehler's squad qualified for the AIAW National Tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah, and that marked the first time a Gustavus women's athletic team participated in a national championship event. The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference sponsored its first volleyball championship in 1981 and Koehler's squads won conference titles in 1982, 1984, 1985, and 1986 and finished second in 1981 and 1983. In 1984, the Gustie volleyball team compiled a perfect 10—0 mark in league play and went on to post a school record 45 wins. That squad advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament before losing to eventual national champion UC-San Diego.
While Koehler's teams were successful in each sport that she coached, her athletes will tell you that the life lessons and skills that she taught them meant much more than the victories. Koehler's trademarks during her 28-year coaching career were her team building activities and her efforts to stay in touch with her athletes after they left Gustavus. She was (and still is) a true mentor to hundreds of Gustavus female student-athletes.
Since retiring from teaching in the Department of Health and Exercise Science in 2004, Koehler has spent most of her time designing and creating art. She is an accomplished potter and weaver, and she also builds primitive furniture out of recycled wood. In addition, Koehler has been a consultant for feng shui interior designing to several local businesses and homeowners. She continues to live in St. Peter in the home she built in the summer of 1983.