A Passion: Coach Gretchen Hammel
By Ann-Marie Witten
Gretchen Hammel came to Chattanooga Christian School as the coach of the high school girls soccer team and part of the strength program at the start of the school year in 2019. She is also a registered dietitian, the General Manager/Owner for the Chattanooga Lady Red Wolves, and, most importantly, a mom. She coached U9’s, middle school, high school, college, and semi-pro teams. She has been coaching for nineteen years.
Hammel came to love the game of soccer as a child. She played soccer for Grace Academy; Tennessee ODP; the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; Nashville, Tennessee W-league; and the Chattanooga FC Women’s team.
When Hammel first arrived at Chattanooga Christian School, twelve players had graduated the previous year. There became a whole new coaching staff: she was the head coach, Gene Nelson was the assistant varsity coach, and Tyler Robertson was the junior varsity coach. With these changes that took place during the high school girls’ soccer season of 2019, everything was new and different. As the season progressed, the coaches and players started to get used to the new culture and environment. Even through the season this year, the program is still in a rebuilding phase, but everyone is starting to relish in the new identity of this team.
Not only does Hammel enjoy coaching soccer, but she enjoys the relationships that she gains. She describes that her nature is to develop deep and authentic relationships with people.
“I think that’s a passion for me,” Hammel says, “and it carries over into the skills I teach in the classroom and onto the field.”
With this passion for deep and authentic relationships, she is developing and rebuilding the high school girls soccer program. She enjoys coaching these high school girls because she gets to coach what she grew up loving to do the most, and also because she gets to see the girls learn and apply what they are coached. She is inspired by these high school girls and is amazed at how mature and wise some of the girls are at a high school age. Hammel describes coaching as a task in which “you really care for your players and you love to see them be successful and you’re always so grateful when they work hard for you as a coach.”
Hadley Levine, a junior and varsity girl soccer player at Chattanooga Christian School, says, “Gretchen has changed the dynamics and attitude of the team. She brings in a new attitude and style of play that has been challenging but made us a much better team.”
One of Hammel’s goals for the high school girls soccer program is to win a state championship within 2-4 years. And not only does she want this for the program, but she wants to provide an environment for the players and coaches that fosters mental and spiritual growth.