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‘Moving’ is her middle name

BY ROBBIE LEHMAN | NOVEMBER 20, 2009 7:21 AM

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Gabby Tinner has called many places home, so it is no coincidence that she plays the “world’s game.”

She may be a sophomore defender for the Iowa soccer team, but that doesn’t begin to tell her story.

The road she took to come to Iowa City wasn’t exactly a straight one.

“Actually, Iowa is really random,” she said.

Her biography on Hawkeyesports.com says she hails from Quantico, Va., but that’s not exactly true. She’s from all over.

Her father is a lieutenant colonel in the Marines, so her family moved more than a dozen times during her childhood.

She squinted as she tried to recall all the places she’s lived: Virginia (twice), North Carolina (twice), Memphis, Tenn., Mountain View and San Diego, Calif., Plano, Irving, and Carrolton, Texas, and a six-month stay in Stuttgart, Germany, when she was 13.

There’s a story behind each city — just not enough time to tell them.

“It was exciting,” she said. “I met a lot of friends. I have a lot of friends all over the place now. I moved at not always the best times, though.”

Tinner, a history major, went to two “very different” high schools on opposite coasts in San Diego and Quantico, Va. She played soccer at each stop, the one constant she had.

“Playing soccer was a big part of it,” she said. “My coaches would make sure I had teams there, so it was always a good shoo-in for friends.”

Even so, one of her Iowa teammates, Kelsey Sandon, from Urbandale, Iowa, cannot imagine living such an adventurous life.

“I think it would be really hard to adjust to new schools all the time,” Sandon said. “It’s not easy to fit in in high school — people already have their social groups. [Gabby is] outgoing and doesn’t care what people think. She does fine, considering her personality.”

Tinner’s teammates also know about her obsession with Harry Potter books and movies, and she’ll gladly talk about how she coordinates a pink phone, shoes, and sunglasses with the pink moped she drives around town.

There are perks to being well-traveled.

Tinner, a huge Dallas Cowboy fan from her time in Texas, where her father is from, speaks four languages besides English. She’s proficient in Spanish after speaking it fluently as a child — her mother is Latina. She also picked up German, French, and Italian when she lived overseas.

After moving from California to Virginia, she landed on the No. 1 team in the state, No. 7 in the nation. Her former coaches talked to other coaches in the areas she moved to, keeping her name fresh in the soccer world — which, she opined, is actually “pretty small.”

When it was time to take her game to college, Iowa head coach Ron Rainey swooped in to score Tinner after she turned down Arkansas State and several D.C.-area schools. He has seen her game and personality evolve in her two years with the program.

“Gabby’s travel background has given her the chance to be exposed to soccer in different places in the country,” Rainey said.

Tinner saw action for the Hawkeyes in one game this year, a 3-0 home win over Northern Iowa. A case of plantar fasciitis limited her at times, but she never got down. Someone who has experienced as much as she has is able to overcome tough times.

Some might think that moving around would also cause Tinner to not become involved in a city that is just the next stop on her lifelong road trip. But she has welcomed everything about Iowa City and the university. In addition to soccer, she is a member of the Delta Zeta sorority.

Living a Midwestern state was strange for her at first. For instance, being in Iowa City is the first time in her life, at least in this country, that she has lived north of the Mason-Dixon line.

“I’m a hard-core Southerner,” she said. “I’ve always believed in Southern beliefs and was raised that way. … A lot of people here have that Southern hospitality even though it’s not in the South.”

She will call Iowa City home for the next two years; in the meantime, she said, she practically lives at Target.

“I love Iowa,” Tinner said. “I think Iowa is a really great place, especially Iowa City, for transitioning into the real world and into being an adult. I think it’s a really good place for that.”


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