BIRTHPLACE: Eveleth, Minn.
BORN: January 11, 1923
DIED: April 8, 2014
TEAMS/ASSOCIATIONS: St. Cloud State University, Crookston Pirates
Sergio “Serge” Gambucci crafted a legendary hockey career out of two basic ingredients: A love for the game of hockey and a conviction that invaluable life lessons could be taught and learned through athletic competition.
Gambucci’s career started in his native Eveleth, MN., where his athletic prowess brought him national recognition. His career was interrupted after high school when he was called into military service during World War II. Upon his return, he attended St. Cloud Teachers College (now St. Cloud State University), where he captained the hockey team and was its leading scorer for two years.
Serge then continued to play top-level amateur hockey after college. In 1951, he was player-coach and leading scorer for the Crookston Pirates, that year’s U.S. amateur national champion. After that however, Serge chose to dedicate his career to teaching and coaching. First at Cathedral High School in Crookston, MN., then at Central High School in Grand Forks, ND., Gambucci fashioned a record marked by success on the ice and the admiration, gratitude and friendship of his players long after their playing careers ended. His Grand Forks Central teams won 10 consecutive North Dakota state championships between 1961 and 1970, and he finished his coaching career with the third highest winning percentage in U.S. high school hockey history.
Serge Gambucci’s lifetime achievements have been recognized by his peers through his induction into several Halls of Fame, including: the Grand Forks Central Athletic, the Grand Forks Public School Teachers, the St. Cloud University and the North Dakota Coaches Association. Upon his retirement, Gambucci was recognized on the floor of the U.S. Senate by Sen. Kent Conrad, who said, “As a teacher and a role model, he inspired thousands of students with a message of integrity and hard work.” Serge and his wife, Eleanor, have seven children and many grandchildren.