December 10, 2021
Gene Ubriaco is being inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame’ on Friday December 10th, 2021 at their 43rd Gala and Induction Ceremony
Jerry Colangelo will receive the Andretti Lifetime Achievement Award. There’ll be special salutes to Tony Esposito and Tommy Lasorda. John Cena will be inducted along with Paul Konerko, Vinny Del Negro, Lee Mazzilli, Buzz Capra, Peter Longo, Jackie Santacaterina and Dave Palone. Oh, and there’ll be two Chicago Wolves legends taking their well-earned place in the Hall: Gene Ubriaco and Bob Nardella.
Ubriaco, 83, is in his eighth decade of professional hockey as a player, coach and manager who has crossed paths with virtually every legend in the game. He was the Wolves’ original head coach and has worked for the organization since Day 1. Nardella was in the lineup on the blue line for the Wolves’ first game and played for nine years – ranking second in franchise history in games (476) and sixth in points (298) while being a crucial part of the Wolves’ 1998, 2000 and 2002 championship teams. Now he’s in his fifth year as an assistant coach.
Ubriaco and Nardella will be surrounded by family during the ceremony – and they’ll be thinking about other family members who guided them along the way. When Ubriaco’s father, Frank, was 14 years old, he took a boat from his native Italy to North America. He was an orphan looking to build a new life – and he found a job in a steel mill in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
“The biggest part of the ceremony is that it recognizes my family,” Ubriaco said. “My parents were the most influential people in my life. My father never really saw me play much because he had to work. My mother (Caroline) came to every game. I played outside every game until I was 13 or 14 and she’d be outside freezing all the time.”