Gavin McKinney became the third head coach in Chattanooga women’s soccer history on December 16, 2014.
In his first year, the Mocs finished eighth in the league standings, up two spots from the previous season. His next two seasons saw even greater improvement. In 2016, UTC finished fifth in the league standings, its best since 2004, and earning its first of back-to-back first round byes in the Southern Conference Tournament.
In 2017 the Southern Conference coaches selected Chloe Arnold the league’s Freshman of the Year, a first for Chattanooga. Also earning honors was sophomore Jordan Mueller who was named All-Conference by the SoCon coaches, Chattanooga’s first since 2011. They join two 2016 all-freshman selections.
The Mocs have excelled in the classroom in McKinney’s three seasons. In the 2017 spring semester, the Mocs set a department record with 11 student-athletes earning a 4.0 grade point average. That followed the Fall 2016 semester when the Mocs posted their highest GPA on record at 3.65 and had 10 with a 4.0. In the Fall of 2017, the Mocs had their second highest GPA at 3.59 and had seven record a 4.0.
Three times the soccer team has had more than 20 make the Dean’s List and more than 20 have earned a spot on the Athletics Director’s Honor Roll in each semester since McKinney’s arrival. Sixteen student-athletes have earned the Southern Conference Commissioner’s Medal for Academics in his first two years for posting a GPA of 3.8 or higher over the course of the entire year. Twenty three have been named to the Fall Academic All-Southern Conference Team and 51 to the Southern Conference Academic Honor Roll.
McKinney had a 71-26-3 (.725) record in five seasons at Cumberland, including three straight trips to the NAIA Sweet 16. The Bulldogs ended the 2014 campaign ranked No. 6 in the NAIA Coaches Top 25 after a 17-4-1 record. Cumberland lost in the quarterfinals of the NAIA National Tournament to eventual champion Lindsey Wilson.
Senior Shauna Gilpin was voted Mid-South Conference Player of the Year and Emily Shires earned MSC Freshman of the Year honors. Senior Kaitlin Phillips led the nation in assists (16), while the Bulldogs ranked second in the country in goals (82) and assists (14) and third in assists (63) and goals per match (3.73).
Cumberland was undefeated in its first 14 outings of the season, rising to No. 1 in the nation for four straight weeks. Three of CU’s four losses were to Lindsey Wilson, with the other at national runner-up Northwestern Ohio.
“I would like to thank David Blackburn and everyone involved with the search for giving me the opportunity to lead the Mocs’ soccer program,” stated McKinney. “I am very excited to get started and look forward to becoming a part of the University and Chattanooga community.
“I would also like to thank Cumberland University for the opportunity it gave me as a young coach,” he continued. “The success we achieved over the last five years was due to the hard work of many student-athletes and support staff, and for that, I am extremely grateful.”
McKinney took over at the Lebanon, Tenn., institution in 2010 and made an immediate impact. The Bulldogs went from three wins in 2009 to a 9-7-1 mark in his first year. They won 10 matches in 2011 and 52 over the last three seasons.
There were a number of firsts for the Bulldogs during McKinney’s tenure, including the first appearance in the NAIA National Tournament in 2012, first regular season Mid-South Conference title in 2013, first No. 1 national ranking in 2014 and the first soccer All-Americans in school history. The 2012 squad set a program record for wins (19), goals (91) and goals against (12).
Cumberland has three consecutive conference players of the year, 13 All-Americans and 21 conference Scholar-Athletes in McKinney’s tenure. He also took home the Mid-South Coach of the Year honors in 2012 and 2013.
McKinney played four seasons at Lambuth University (2001-04), earning All-Mid-South Conference honors as a junior and senior. He was a member of the Dean’s List and earned the Eagle Award in 2004. He graduated with a Bachelor’s in Recreation and Sports Management in 2005 and earned his Master’s in Education from UT Martin in 2006.
The Sherwood Park, Alberta, native started his coaching career with the West Tennessee Select Soccer Club and the U18 boys team in 2005. McKinney was then the boys and girls soccer coach at Madison Academic High School in Jackson, Tenn., in 2006-07.
He spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Bethel University. There he served as the recruiting coordinator, running daily training sessions with the team and assisting in match management, travel preparation and scheduling. The Wildcats posted a 30-18-7 record during his tenure, finishing runner-up in the TranSouth regular season twice and appearing in the conference tournament championship game all three years.
McKinney also served as a club coach with the Jackson Soccer Club from 2006-10 and as part of the State of Tennessee Olympic Development Training Program for six years. He holds a “B” coaching license with the US Soccer Federation, completed in February 2012. He and his wife, Shari, have a two daughters, Ava (4) and new addition to the family, Addi.