1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Chris Carrieri; I am 43 years old and live in Fort Mill, SC, just south of the Charlotte area. I was born in San Antonio, TX, but my father was in the Air Force, so I spent most of my childhood playing in the desert in Las Vegas. During my teenage years, I lived in Stafford, VA, until I attended college.
My passion was soccer, and that’s all I played day in and day out as a kid and aspired to get a college soccer NCAA D1 scholarship. I achieved that dream and played soccer at UNC-Chapel Hill from 1998-2000. I left school early to enter the MLS Draft and was selected #1 overall in 2001. I played in Major League Soccer for San Jose and Colorado, but since I left college early, I promised my parents I would finish school, so I obtained a degree in Information Systems while playing.
I wanted to work with computers and digital data because my father was a Computer Engineer in the Air Force for 20 years and then continued his career as a Solutions Architect in the computer field. He always shared many incredible experiences in the area, and I became drawn to the industry. After soccer, I was fortunate to work for some amazing companies like EMC/Dell, VMware, Microsoft, and Databricks while coaching soccer on the side. I have learned a ton during my career and am still growing daily. I am thrilled to work with clients and add value by assisting them in their data journey.
I have been married for over 20 years to the most fantastic woman in the world, Heather. She is the greatest supporter in all I have done while we have been together, and I am lucky to have her by my side. We have two boys, Brecken and Caison, 19 and 14 respectively. Brecken was an excellent soccer player growing up and is in the College of Engineering & Computing at the University of South Carolina, while Caison plays tackle football for his school. We also have an extremely spoiled 4-year-old French Bulldog, Hank. He makes us laugh all day, every day. I have one sibling, Kim, two years older than me. I am also extremely close to my parents. My father is my best friend, and I give my mother unconditional love for all she has done for our family. Growing up, I had a super easy childhood with my parents sacrificing time, money, and everything for my soccer obsession. Every night, they taxied me to practice until I could drive, spent every weekend traveling, and spent a crazy amount of money on the sport year after year. They never missed a soccer match and traveled a million miles to see me in college and MLS, so their support was unheard of. I am fortunate enough to have my parents about 30 min away, so we spend much time together on weekends.
My hobbies are going to the gym, playing pickleball (I am obsessed), surfing behind our boat at Lake Wiley, watching every sport on TV, and hanging out with my family. My oldest son and I love muscle cars, so that also keeps me entertained. I have always loved animals and think dogs are just excellent companions. It is fantastic to see what animals are capable of and how they affect our lives positively. I live a simple and happy life with family and friends, smile every morning, and live each day to the fullest.
Each Spring season, I volunteer coach for the Varsity soccer team at Catawba Ridge High School. The area I live in actually has some really good HS soccer teams, and nothing is more fun than staying engaged in competitive sports. However, the best part is giving back to the local community and the ability to work with young athletes, watching them grow on and off the field.
2. How would you describe your time as a professional athlete in the MLS?
Playing in the MLS was a fantastic experience, as I entered the league at 20. There were ups and downs, just like in any business, but being part of a club, battling with your teammates on the field, and doing what you love was the best part.
Being able to travel the world and be part of a brotherhood that lasts a lifetime was a phenomenal experience. As an athlete, you must be disciplined in many areas to maintain your craft, and I took that competitive nature and the lessons learned into the IT business world. I am genuinely grateful for my time in the MLS; the sport has come a long way. It is funny because, during my playing days nearly 20 years ago, sensors and tracking player data were very new at the time, and all the rave.
Today, data is increasingly abundant, but making sense of the data quickly and efficiently is critical, and the most challenging for sports teams today. I would have loved the benefits of the Gemini Sports Analytics technology when I played! Seeing the success of soccer in the US grow year after year is incredible, both in the men’s and women’s sides. Hence, the amount of data consumed by the rapid evolution of technology will provide a way forward for teams to have an advantage with a proper data strategy in place. Having that opportunity to continue to stay connected to the MLS and the sport of soccer is a blessing.
3. What drew you to studying IT?
My father was in IT, and I was very close to him growing up. I would always ask him about his work, and he would share his experiences with me during our long soccer journeys in the car. I was immediately drawn to the industry and was always going to get a degree in some area of IT. My son is following the same path; I am glad we can keep the streak going.
4. What was it like being part of A $43 Billion AI Company, and how can these learnings benefit professional sporting teams?
Databricks is a great company that has disrupted the data and AI space. The company has a bright future, and I am grateful I was a part of it.
Working with multiple enterprise customers, I assisted them in their digital transformation and data strategy. It is a complex space, and I learned so much as it seems to change daily. Always something new and approved that comes out, and you must adapt and learn the “new” aspects.
Being part of Gemini Sports Analytics with the Databricks background will enhance the ability to collaborate with sports teams in their data journey.
My extreme passion for sports and data and AI experience will allow me to become an integral part of and accelerate our customer’s success. I am not sure there is a better job than the one GSA has provided me, and I am as excited as ever and look forward to growing with the company.
5. What inspired you to join Gemini Sports Analytics?
Working within the world of sports and data was 100% the reason to join.
The minute I spoke to Jake, we connected and hit it off immediately. Then, with each team member I talked with, I was drawn more and more to their culture and focus on making the best solution for customers.
The product is special, and the talent behind product innovation is second to none! Just looking at the accelerated pace of how far the product has come and changed just from months ago is astounding. I look forward to being an asset to the team, driving outstanding customer experiences, and growing with the company over the years. Exciting times are ahead, and I’m stoked to be a part of it!
6. What are you currently working on at GSA?
Currently, I am focused on all collegiate and professional North American sports teams; working to find ways to add value and collaboratively conquer pains and challenges for them. Based on my relationships with former teammates or MLS players who have become coaches, directors, general managers, etc., it will be especially great to connect with them and understand their current state and how we can help. However, I will be asked to wear many hats, and I look forward to the challenge. We all work together as a team, bring a ton of energy to our work, and roles change daily when all you want is for your product to impact customers positively.
7. How can people reach you to learn more about GSA?
Phone: (803) 307-3350