Jimmy Gabriel, both instrumental and influential to the advancement of Puget Sound area soccer for more than 35 years and the original Mr. Sounder, has died. Gabriel, 80, passed July 10 at Banner Health Center in Phoenix. We wish to express our deepest sympathies to his wife Pat and daughters Karen, Janet and Samantha and their families.
Gabriel won friends throughout his life while exhibiting a can-do, selfless spirit and instilling belief in others. At their best, his teams exhibited those same qualities; they pulled together to reach and surpass lofty goals and form lasting relationships. He was a teacher of the game and an inspirational force, giving of his time and talent wherever his travels took him. Gabriel recognized the strong connection between players and fans, and by lifting his players, their play would lift the crowd, who would then lift the team further. He knew the game, he competed hard, and he was driven to win. He coached up teammates, and his play was described as the perfect blend of silk and steel.
Gabriel served as original captain and second head coach of the NASL Seattle Sounders as well as the first coaching director for Washington Youth Soccer. He was coaching director and later head coach for FC Seattle, which provided a competitive environment for development of the area’s top players following the NASL’s demise. Later, Gabriel served as an assistant coach for the University of Washington men’s and women’s programs, and he was Brian Schmetzer’s top assistant with the A-League Sounders.