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How Team Huddles Make the Difference

Gaucho hall-of-famers make their mark on and off the football fields, motivating alumni to engage and give back.

In football, the linebacker is critical to the game. He’s responsible for rushing the quarterback, taking care of the run, and defending the pass. Translation: the linebacker possesses enormous versatility and talent, and manages a variety of responsibilities. It’s no surprise, then, that three outside linebackers became friends in college--and that their teamwork lasted beyond their years at UC Santa Barbara.

Buddies “Corky” Barrett ’67, Jim Barber* ’67, and John Keever ’67 were leaders on the former football team, which made history in 1965 when they advanced to the Camellia Bowl. These athletes didn’t just rely on “the good old days”; they made a lasting impression at UCSB.

“The university athletics had given [them] so much,” observed Jim’s wife, Cheryl Barber ’66. “They felt they needed to give back.”

Responsibility meant rallying former teammates to reconnect with campus. Together, a core group of alumni organized around a shared purpose: to establish the Gaucho Athletic Association.

“We were building a consensus of friendship [and] partnership,” remarked Donn Bernstein, UCSB’s first sports information director. His CoSIDA hall of fame induction served the occasion for reuniting the Camellia Bowl team.

“I remember our mission statement that we put together,” recalled Keever. “[It] was not just about athletic success; it was about academic success, building careers---how can this group of alumni come back and help with this?

The Keevers have helped in a big way. Not only did John contribute to the creation of the Association but he also helped raise money for Curtice Gate, which is now the entry gate at Harder Stadium. Together with his wife Debbie ’67, the Keevers annually donate to athletic scholarships and Baseball. Their generosity has expanded the very definition of “giving back”.

“There’s room for people who can’t give hundreds of thousands,” advised Debbie.

Adds John: “We give our time to engage other people. We do our philanthropy at the level that we do it.”

 

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This philosophy has helped spawn a generation of loyal alumni. According to Barber, it’s a testament to the Keevers’ ability to inspire “enthusiasm and support for the university”; it’s acts of generosity made visible.

“I have experienced firsthand what [the Keevers] have done for UCSB,” said outfielder Josh Adams ’17. “The Baseball team is twenty five times better than what it was.”

“ ‘Dare to be great. Always give back’ is my email signature,” shared John. “We owe everything to the university because of our educational experience.”

Barber considers the length of time it’s been since the teammates launched their efforts: “This peer group has been around for 50 years,” she marvels. She hopes a new generation might form to produce something as meaningful as what the Keevers and others created.

“John loves being a Gaucho,” chuckles Adams. “[The Keevers] are wonderful people. They’re on a mission to make this place great.”