Our Mission/Philosophy

U1 Sports is a premier sports organization that is driven by the experiences of former student athletes who want to pay it forward by educating and preparing their members to be successful both in athletics and their communities alike. U1 looks to serve neighborhoods that lack quality youth athletic programming.

Our programs are designed to build confidence, character, and community through our healthy learning environment, positive leadership, and strong professional network. U1 Sports prides itself in developing high character, team oriented athletes who have the drive to better themselves as a whole.

With over 25+ years of experience in teaching, coaching and working in the development of youth athletic programs, U1 Sports’ passionate and supportive staff works to achieve experiences and life lessons that will continue well into adulthood.


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Meet the Team

Daniel Pena

U1 Sports Founder and program director, Daniel Pena, is a physical educator, coach, trainer and mentor whose passion for education, development and service has been evident throughout his 9-year career. He has expertly coached teams ranging from kindergarten to high school-level and has instructed players in sports clinics and coordinated youth programs. He is certified in CPR/AED, First Aid and Concussion.

Pena’s athletic career began as a Syracuse University Football defensive lineman. After earning his B.S. in accounting (CPA) from the Whitman School of Management, Pena went on to obtain an M.S. in Sports Administration from Canisius College.

Pena began his teaching career at the Mandell School in New York City as a physical education teacher, extended day coordinator and coach for the school’s middle school track team and girls’ middle school basketball team. At Mandell, Pena designed curriculum and was instrumental in meeting the needs of both students and their parents.

After his stint at the Mandell School, Pena served as the director of athletics at Camp Watitoh and the JCC, a nonprofit community organization, in Riverdale. While at the JCC, Pena created a successful NFL flag football league, developed and directed sports clinics and coordinated various other sports recreation programs.

Currently, Pena teaches physical education at the Stephen Gaynor. He previously taught at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School and continues to serve as the director of football for Fieldston Sports Camp. Entering his 8th season as the offensive/defensive lineman coach for the Fieldston varsity high school football team, he aided Fieldston in winning three Ivy Preparatory School League championships. Pena also coached Jacob McKay and Sam Greene, who went on to play for Brown University Football and Wesleyan University Football, respectively.

In 2016, Pena was selected as the Defensive Line coach of the Columbia University Football Recruiting Camp. In 2012, Pena was selected as the defensive line coach for the NAIA vs. Division 2 College All-Star game. The following year, he was selected as the defensive line coach for the 2013 Euro-American Challenge International Scout Bowl.
As program director for U1 sports, Pena aims to bring his teaching and coaching knowledge to children in underserved communities.

Gabriel Pena

Gabriel Pena is a Special Education Teacher for the NYC Department of Education. He graduated with his bachelors in Communications from the University at Albany, and is obtained his Dual Masters in General and Special Education from Hunter College. Pena developed his love for sports at an early age, where he was a two-sport star in baseball and basketball. Throughout his youth, he had several mentors who taught him to not only become a great athlete, but most importantly, how to be a model citizen. Once Pena’s playing career was over, his passion shifted into giving back to the children in his community. This lead to Pena beginning his teaching career as a Sports Instructor for Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation (SASF), where he was in charge of designing sports curriculum, as well as coaching the basketball and flag football teams.

These experiences opened the door for Pena to become an Educational Associate in the Department of Education, where he found joy working closely with special needs students. The reward of helping a student realize their own potential was the driving force in his decision pursue his Masters Degree to become a Certified Special Education Teacher.

Gabriel is currently the founding 1st Grade teacher at Zeta Charter School. Pena’s school and work experiences gives him a unique perspective on how to communicate with student-athletes on an interpersonal level. In addition to being a Special Educator, Pena tutors, mentors, and privately trains students on a need basis.


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