A legacy of tradition and excellence has been established by University of Pittsburgh men's soccer head coach Joe Luxbacher, only the second head coach in the program's storied history. The 2014 will mark Luxbacher's 32nd season as the head coach and the 62nd season of soccer at Pitt.
"An essential element for success in any endeavor is to surround yourself with good people and I have tried to do that," Luxbacher said. "Our players and coaches are expected to work hard, be trustworthy, accept responsibility and be committed to the team, the University, and the program. My goal is for everyone involved in our program to enjoy success and at the same time, cherish the experience. On a personal level I enjoy working with the players, I enjoy the competition, and I take pride in representing Pitt."
The two-time Big East Coach of the Year, Luxbacher has directed the Panthers to six 10-plus victory seasons and eight Big East Tournament appearances over his tenure. In 1992, Pitt set a then-school record for victories (12) and advanced to the Big East Championship. Three seasons later, Luxbacher's squad won a school-record 14 games and recorded Pitt's first-ever conference tournament victory as it defeated Seton Hall in a shootout. During the 2000 campaign, the team was ranked as high as No. 7 nationally. Over the course of his collegiate coaching career,his Panther teams have compiled more than 200 wins and defeated numerous ranked teams.
Prior to making his mark as a coach, Luxbacher set the standard for individual achievement as a Pitt student-athlete. In his three-year collegiate career from 1970-73, he established four school records, including most goals in a single-game (seven), most points in a single contest (15), career goals (37) and career points (84). He led the Panthers in both points and goals for three consecutive seasons and led the 1973 squad in assists. As the team captain and Most Valuable Player his senior season, Luxbacher averaged 12-plus goals and 28 points per season in his career for legendary head coach Leo Bemis.
After Luxbacher graduated in 1974 with a BS Degree in Biological Sciences, he began his professional playing career with the Philadelphia Atoms of the North American Soccer League (NASL). After two seasons, he traveled abroad with a select team touring Europe. Afterward Luxbacher returned to his hometown as a member of the Major Indoor Soccer League's (MISL) Pittsburgh Spirit, where he had the distinction of scoring the Spirit's first goal in franchise history.
Even though Luxbacher has had the good fortune to play internationally and compete at the professional level, he remains loyal to his Pittsburgh roots. Luxbacher learned the game while growing up in Beadling, a small mining town just south of Pittsburgh which boasts a rich soccer history. Through the years, Beadling teams have won many local and national competitions and in 1954 the men's senior team was crowned national amateur champions (United States Soccer Federation) when it defeated St. Louis in the National Amateur Cup final.
As a youngster Luxbacher developed his passion and love of the sport from his dad, uncles and the many senior players in Beadling. Almost every evening after dinner a group of players, young and old alike, would gather to play pick-up games on the town soccer field. On weekends the Beadling teams would compete against teams from local towns in organized games. Intense rivalries arose and the pride of representing their town provided motivation to win."The senior players were tough, no-nonsense guys who played a rough game of soccer," recalls Luxbacher. "There was always a great deal of pride and camaraderie on the Beadling teams, and I learned early on the value of commitment and teamwork. I wouldn't have reached the playing level that I did had I not grown up in this close-knit and supportive soccer culture.
In addition to Luxbacher, Beadling groomed two other Panther greats, Robert Cherry (1955) and Jerome Bressanelli (1955-57). Bressanelli was an All-American for the Panthers, while Cherry still holds two program marks.
With international, professional and collegiate experiences, Luxbacher decided to pursue a passion - coaching. In 1978, he was named the head men's soccer coach at Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio. During his three-year tenure at Mount Union, Luxbacher compiled a 24-12-4 record. In 1981, Luxbacher returned to the University of Pittsburgh to complete a PhD and in 1983 served as an assistant under his former college coach, Leo Bemis. Bemis retired from coaching in 1984 and Pitt named Luxbacher as only its second head men's soccer coach.
Luxbacher also serves as the founder and director of the Shoot to Score Soccer Academy, which offers instructional soccer camps to youth players of all ages. He has authored more than a dozen books for both coaches and players covering various aspects of soccer, as well as a couple of titles dealing with health and fitness (Conditioning for Soccer - McGraw-Hill Publishers, and Total Fitness - Wish Publishing Co.).
Luxbacher has also written and produced a series of coaching DVD's titled Winning Soccer and most recently authored his 15th book; the fourth installment of the SoccerSteps to Successseries. Most of Luxbacher's soccer books are available through the publisher Human Kinetics.
Luxbacher is also an avid outdoorsman who enjoys hiking and canoeing and has contributed a section to another book, Hiking Guide to the Monongahela National Forest. He has also authored a chapter titled Careers in Coaching and Athletics for the college textbook Introduction to Kinesiology (2008).
Luxbacher earned both his Master's (1978) and Doctorate (1985) degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and has Level A coaching certification from the United States Soccer Federation. He was honored as a Letterman of Distinction by the University of Pittsburgh in 2003. Luxbacher is a member of several Hall of Fames, including: Beadling Sports Club Hall of Fame (1995), the Upper St. Clair High School Athletics Hall of Fame (2002) and the Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 2005. He resides in suburban Pittsburgh with his wife Gail, daughter Eliza and son Travis.
THE JOE LUXBACHER FILE Born: February 10, 1951 Hometown: Beadling, Pa. High School: Upper St. Clair College Education: University of Pittsburgh, 1974, B.S. in Biological Sciences; M.Ed. in Health, Physical Education and Recreation, 1978; Ph.D. in Administration of Physical Education and Athletics, 1985. Family: Wife Gail Ann, daughter Eliza Gail (16), and son Travis Joseph (15). Coaching experience: Assistant coach, University of Pittsburgh, 1975 and 1983; Head coach, Mount Union College, Ohio, 1978-81; Head coach: University of Pittsburgh, 1984-present.
LUXBACHER'S PLAYING CAREER College: • Selected to All-PA-NJ-DE team in 1972 and 1973. • Team Captain and Most Valuable Player Award in 1973. • Honored as a member of the Outstanding College Athletes of America in 1970 and 1973. • Scored a school-record seven goals against Edinboro in 1971 (also had an assist, giving him 15 points in one game). • Tied for Pittsburgh's school-record with 84 career points. • Registered a school-record 37 goals during his career. • Received Pittsburgh's Panther Award in 1973.
LUXBACHER'S COACHING CAREER • 1992 BIG EAST Conference Coach of the Year. • 1995 BIG EAST Conference Coach of the Year. • Inducted into the Western Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 2005. • Led Pittsburgh to a school-record 14 wins in 1995, including its first ever BIG EAST Championship Tournament win. • Beadling Soccer Club Hall of Fame inductee in 1995. • 2002 Upper St. Clair High School Hall of Fame Inductee. • An accomplished writer who has authored many books about soccer. His works include: Soccer Practice Games (3rd edition), 2010; Soccer: Steps to Success (3rd edition), 2004; Soccer Practice Games, 2003; The Soccer Goalkeeper (3rd edition), 2002; Total Fitness for Women, 2002; Attacking Soccer, 1999; Conditioning For Soccer, 1997; Soccer-Winning Techniques, 1997; Soccer: Steps To Success, Second Edition,1996; Soccer Practice Games, 1995; The Soccer Goalkeeper, 1993; Soccer: Steps to Success, 1991; Soccer: A Guide for Players, Coaches and Fans, 1991; Teaching Soccer, 1991; Fun Games for Soccer Training, 1987. • The director and founder of Shoot to Score Soccer Academy. • The director and co-founder of the Keystone Soccer Kamps. • Recognized as an accredited soccer coach by the United States Soccer Federation with an "A" coaching certification.