Athlete of the Week: Soccer and Basketball Player Rebecca Gartner

Rebecca Gartner is one of many athletes at Villanova University. However, unlike most players, Gartner is on two varsity sports teams. The 5’7” graduate student is a goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team as well as a guard for the women’s basketball team. While balancing two sports in her schedule throughout the year can be difficult, Gartner enjoys being busy and active.

“Balancing it was definitely was a lot of work, but I love being active,” Gartner says. “If my schedule is busy, I kind of enjoy that.”

When Gartner was younger, she tried out gymnastics, but she quickly turned to basketball and lacrosse as she got older. Prioritizing soccer as her main sport, she wanted to pursue the sport throughout college. In 2014, Gartner attended UCF for a semester. She then transferred to Baylor University, where she played there in 2015 and 2016. At Baylor, she started in six out of 10 matches she played in, totaling 542 minutes and a 0.83 goals against average, according to Villanova Athletics. However, Gartner didn’t feel like she was improving as a player, so she transferred from Baylor to Villanova University in 2017.

“I was getting some playing time… but I really wanted to get better. That was my big goal. I wanted to find a coach and program… because I want to play pro,” Gartner said. “And I kind of knew at Baylor, the system we were playing wasn’t making me into the goalkeeper that I [wanted to be].”

Switching from school to school was stressful at times and came with frustration. While she began to question her decisions, Gartner says the experience made her stronger.

“It was obviously tough, because when you’re transferring… when things aren’t working out, there’s a lot of, ‘maybe I shouldn’t have done this.’ But overall, I gained a lot of experience. I don’t regret many of my decisions,” Gartner said.

Due to transfer rules, Gartner had to sit out for the 2017 season. While it was difficult to not be able to play throughout the season, she looks at the time as her ‘growing year.’ Before games, Gartner would practice through one-on-one sessions with Villanova assistant coach Megan Geldernick, who helped her with her goalkeeping.

In 2018, Gartner was able to finally get on the field. She appeared in nine games and started in six. She tallied a 1.48 goals against average and had 25 total saves, including six saves on three separate occasions during the season. 

The next season, she increased her playing time from 606:46 minutes to 1359:20 minutes. Gartner recorded a goals against average of 1.46 and had 63 saves throughout the season. She contributed to seven wins, six losses, two ties and had five shutouts. After the season ended, Gartner didn’t want to wait anymore. She was tired of it. She had done just that over the entire year before, and she decided on trying something that she hadn’t done since high school: play basketball.

Gartner said she didn’t know what prompted her to play. It was her last year in college, and her twin sister, Rachel, who plays for the St. Joe’s women’s basketball team, encouraged her to play.

“[Rachel] was like, ‘no matter what, I think it’s good for [you] to do two sports,’” Gartner says. “Basketball is a quick sport; it definitely helps with my speed. And I think it was an opportunity… like who else can say they did both.”

Gartner earned a spot as a walk-on for the women’s basketball team in the 2019-20 season. While she enjoys playing basketball, Gartner knows that soccer is more important to focus on. Playing basketball has even helped strengthen some of her skills for soccer such as communication and defense.

“I think, as an athlete, you have to pick which one is your priority. And my priority is soccer. That’s the one I’m putting more effort into no matter what.”

Gartner looks forward to pursuing her soccer career and playing professionally. She plans on trying out for pro teams in Utah, New Jersey, and Washington D.C.