A Legacy of Coaching: Gene Ubraico

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Gene Ubriaco first learned about coaching by watching his dad.

Ohio University graduate Gene Ubraico Jr. grew up with a father who both played and coached professional hockey. Gene Ubraico Sr. wore the uniform of the Chicago Blackhawks and the Pittsburgh Penguins, and when he retired from the ice he moved into coaching. Ubraico Jr. grew up around rinks, watching players train and his father coach.

“I saw (my father) always out with his players,” Ubraico says. “I used to go to practice with him. I was kind of a rink rat, (tagging along) on bus trips. I just loved it. It’s a great lifestyle. It keeps you young, you know? Young at heart, and it’s a dynamic profession.”

Now, the third generation has taken the field. Ubraico’s son, Michael – who was coached by his dad for four years at Loyola Blakefield High School – plays lacrosse at Villanova University.

Gene Ubraico’s career has definitely benefitted from the family’s rich legacy of athletics. But he now employs his own personal coaching style thanks to the foundation in coaching psychology, injury prevention, finance, and ethics he developed during his participation in Ohio University’s online master’s in coaching education program (MCE).

Melding Experience with Education

Students of the MCE program are asked to do a presentation on their coaching philosophy during Foundations of Coaching, one of their first classes. Ubraico drew on what he learned from watching his father build relationships with players as the foundation for his personal coaching philosophy.

“[My father’s] work ethic was incredible,” explains Ubraico. “He was great at all the intangibles. I would say that effort, attitude, toughness, and relationship building were the things that I learned the most from my dad. He really knew how to team-build and create collaboration, and he had a way of getting all the players to want to put in all their effort for the common good.”

Ubraico’s lifetime of experience and observation helped reinforce the lessons taught in OU’s master’s in coaching curriculum, which includes Management and Leadership in Sports, Performance and Conditioning for Athletic Coaches, Ethics and Diversity for Athletic Coaches, and Performance Recovery Strategies for Coaches.

A self-described lifelong learner like Ubraico, however, knows that there is no such thing as trained enough. Education takes place perpetually throughout a coach’s career. OU’s Coaching Symposium also taught alternative approaches that Ubraico could compare to the lessons he learned from his father.

“To be immersed with nothing but coaching topics for five days in a controlled environment was… an excellent experience,” Ubraico says.

Gene Ubraico’s Future in Coaching

The 2018-19 school year will be Ubraico’s first as head lacrosse coach at century-and-a-half-old Jesuit Loyola Blakefield High School, according to a press release on the school’s website. His new position is the culmination of 20-plus years of experience with sports and as a math and social studies teacher.

Ubraico knows that his coaching degree will help him lead Loyola Blakefield’s successful lacrosse team to victories in the future – and hopefully to championships. He plans to take the contemporary knowledge learned through OU and combine it with the centuries-old Ignatian method of teaching employed by the Jesuit school.

“I think that nowadays access to information is so easy that the role of the coach and the teacher, in my opinion, is to concentrate on facilitating the application of knowledge,” says Ubraico. “I’ve noticed that both coaching and teaching are now much more hands on. You now work side by side with your players and students much more than the traditional top-down approach. Coaches should still be obeyed, but the overall approach is much more collaborative than ever before.”

The Ignatian method takes students’ (and athletes) families and friends, social situations, and culture into consideration when instructing them, according to Ignatian Pedagogy: A Practical Approach from JesuitInstitute.org.

Although Ubraico attended a Catholic institution in his youth, his current position is his first as a leader in a Catholic school. He is excited to learn more about being an Ignatian educator and developing the personal, collaborative learning environment proven to work in athletic environments.

Scaling Obstacles and Advancing Toward Victory

Another goal is to improve the parent/coach dynamic. As head coach, he wants to get all of the parents on board with the lacrosse program’s primary aim: cultivating sportsmanship and teamwork during the students’ most impressionable years.

Many parents of high schoolers, especially in college preparatory schools like his, Ubriaco says, tend to concentrate on making sure their child impresses college scouts rather than on the overall goals of the school’s athletic department.

“I think nowadays a lot of kids are represented by their parents rather than supported by them,” suggests Ubraico. “Some parents are so involved now that they make coaches’ jobs more difficult.”

As head coach, Ubraico hopes to work with parents to help their children coalesce as a team. He knows that if he and the parents come together with common purpose, he can coach his team to victories that will help bond his athletes together, and thus become one of Ohio University’s most inspiring master’s in coaching education success stories.

Ohio University’s Online Master of Coaching Education Program

Ohio University prepares coaches for positions ranging from middle school athletics departments to college. Graduates of OU’s MCE program learn to increase athletic performance among athletes, as well as the technical and leadership skills required to coach a sports team.

MCE coursework includes management, leadership, and finance for coaches; injury prevention; performance and conditioning; ethics and diversity; and risk management. For more information on OU’s online coaching education master’s degree, contact OU today.


Recommended Reading:

The Basics of Physical Conditioning

5 Tips to Help Your Student-Athletes Become College-Ready

5 Tips for a Strong Relationship Between a Coach and an Athlete



Gene Ubraico Named Head Coach – Loyolablakefield.org

Ignatian Pedagogy – Jesuitinstitute.org