On Sept. 7, UCSB student Chad Andrew Briner died in his Isla Vista apartment at the age of 21. The cause of Briner’s death is still unknown, pending a toxicology report.
For Briner, a fourth-year sociology major, athletics were a way of life. Whether he was competing in intramurals or working with UCSB’s Recreational, Briner’s time at UCSB was defined by his athletic involvement.
Prior to his death, Briner had been working on Gauchos Play, a Web site promoting club, intramural and adventure sport programs at UCSB, Rec Sports Director Paul Lee said.
“Every project needs a leader,” Lee said. “Chad provided that coordination, insight and ingenuity in a short time.”
After graduating from high school, the lifelong Ventura resident attended Newman University in Wichita, Kansas on a partial baseball scholarship. However, Briner suffered a severe shoulder injury and had to end his competitive baseball career during his freshman year.
Following a brief one-year stint at Ventura College, Briner transferred to UCSB and was scheduled to graduate this December.
According to Rob Briner, Chad’s father, his son had always been involved with sports and UCSB offered him the perfect opportunity to dedicate himself to the activities he loved.
“Chad was just thrilled to attend UCSB,” Briner said. “He became really attached to Rec Sports and Gauchos Play, which he modeled after ESPN’s Web site.”
In addition to playing intramural basketball and bowling, Briner coached and played for an intramural softball team through the Winter 2008 season, teammate Joel Katz said.
“Our team was an intramural team, so it was all in good fun,” Katz, a third-year sociology and sports managment major said. “But he took it seriously. We all knew Chad had a great baseball background.”
Briner’s baseball prowess and coaching skills helped take his team to the intramural softball championships last winter.
“Somehow, Chad made four errors while playing left field,” Katz said. “The whole team was like ‘C’mon Chad’. But we all laughed it off afterwards. That’s the kind of guy Chad was.”
Matt Berson, a fourth-year sociology major who knew Briner since the age of four, said he remembers him as a rare and caring friend who brought his good-natured outlook on life everywhere he went.
“Chad was into stupid little stories,” Berson said. “He had the weirdest sense of humor. But if you would have met this guy, he probably would have done something unique for you that you wouldn’t forget.” Rob Briner said he and his wife are currently working with Chad’s high school to establish an annual scholarship in his name that would help students pursue baseball in college.
The Recreational Sports Dept. is also considering creating a student professional staff development fund in Briner’s memory, which would provide resources for leadership and management workshops, Lee said.