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Don Davey's Memories of Coach Rubick

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June 3rd, 2009
Ron Rubick was much more than just a football coach to me. When my family re-located to Manitowoc in 1979, Coach Rubick’s friendly face was waiting for us when we stepped off the USS Badger Car Ferry. He had gotten word of a family of athletic boys moving to the Lakeshore area from upstate New York. He and his wife Jonelle wanted to be the first to welcome us to our new hometown.

From the time I was eleven years old, I watched my brothers Tim and Bill practice and play under Coach Rubick at Lincoln High. They would tell me about how their Coach cared more about their grades and their character than he did about their football ability. He always demanded their very best in everything they did. Ron molded my brothers into not only outstanding football players but exceptional young men. I remember hearing my parents comment about how thrilled they were to have their boys in such good hands.

Needless to say, I couldn’t wait for my chance to play for Ron’s Lincoln Ships. His tough, no-nonsense, and relentless style of play was a reflection of his own personality…and of mine. By the time I enrolled at Lincoln in the tenth grade, his long-term commitment to a sound football philosophy was beginning to pay dividends with winning seasons. I was fortunate to be part of a talented wave of athletes that would comprise Coach Rubick’s Program for the next several years.

Over a four year period from 1983-1987, the Ships won 48 consecutive games, more than any other high school team in the country. Through his entire 32 years as the head coach of the Ships, Ron remained his likeable, humble self. He always accepted 100% of the blame for things that went wrong, but deferred 100% of the credit to his assistant coaches, players, and support staff for everything that went right. Above all, he always cared more about his players as young men than as athletes.

Our success as a team afforded me the opportunity to continue playing football. After graduating from Lincoln in 1986, I went on to play for the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, and Jacksonville Jaguars. Through my entire football career, Coach Rubick and I remained very good friends. We chatted often during the season and during the offseason. Every time I spoke with him, he reminded me of the lessons he taught me as a player and as a person. Those lessons continue to serve me well to this day.

I last spoke with Coach Rubick in December of 2008. He called me in Florida as he had many times over the years. He had battled and beaten cancer over the years, but this time I could tell the fight had left him weakened. Coach knew all too well how sick he was. I later learned I was one of a handful of people that he called to say goodbye to.

The idea of the Rubick Run came to me in February while attending his funeral in Manistique, Michigan. As I watched hundreds of people gather to pay their respects, I realized that I was not the only person to be deeply touched by his passion for football and life. I wanted to give all of us who were touched by him a way to honor his legacy.

Proceeds from the Rubick Run will benefit Lincoln High School and Cancer Research. Thank you for joining me in this wonderful event saluting this wonderful man. And from all of us, thank you for everything Coach Rubick.

Don Davey


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Last updatedAugust 18, 2009