Eric Gracia, a member of the Latino Basketball Coaches Association and Be Ready, is the Director of Video & Analytics for Penn State Women's Basketball.
1.Why did you get into coaching?
Some of the most influential people in my life have been coaches and educators and I want to be what I had and what I didn't have for young men and women that share my passion for basketball.
2. How many years have you been coaching?
2021-2022 will be year 7.
3. Who has been your biggest influence in coaching and why?
Pastors Dustin Bates and Keon Byrd because they helped me understand my responsibilities as a coach extend beyond the game and the things we grow up thinking coaches and educators are. They’ve both served as examples of what it means to be a man of God throughout the adversities of life. And also Bruce Lee because of his philosophy and approach to self-actualization through discipline and humility.
4. What do you enjoy most about coaching and why?
The opportunities to impact, influence, and engage with people of all ages through the game of basketball and the platform it provides.
5. What has been one of the greatest lessons you have learned about life through coaching? Please explain.
Be a good person with no expectation of reciprocity. Work hard with no expectation of a breakthrough. But remain faithful that both will happen in God’s timing.
6. What is your ultimate goal in coaching?
To impact as many lives as possible, regardless of title or position.
7. What has been one of the toughest lessons you have learned through coaching. Please explain.
Not everybody will understand why you’ve chosen this career or why it’s important to you. And it’s not your responsibility to get them to understand.
8. As a minority coach, what do you feel has been the biggest challenge for minority coaches in the profession?
Basketball is a global sport. Tactical or strategic knowledge of the game, the ability to create and maintain relationships, the ability to develop young men and women on and off the court, and every other skill that comes to mind when you think of successful coaches, all transcend the color of one’s skin, the accent in one’s voice, gender identification and sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and religious belief. But oftentimes it doesn’t feel that way. Hiring practices and opportunities afforded should reflect the melting pot that is the basketball community.
9. Tell us something about yourself that people would be surprised to know about you.
I worked at a junk yard until I was 22 while pursuing a career in criminal justice until I felt called to coach.