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Amid adversity, club rugby president finds hope

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SEU Club Rugby President Adam Tabak-Moreno

SEU Club Rugby President Adam Tabak-Moreno

SEU Club Rugby President Adam Tabak-Moreno

Brandon Paz

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Yes, SEU Club Rugby President Adam Tabak-Moreno had heard and knew of rugby by the time he found his way to St. Edward’s, however, he had never played a lick of organized rugby prior to joining SEU’s team.

“I just really played with my friend’s family. My friend’s from Argentina, so he kind of introduced me to the sport loosely…” Tabak-Moreno said. “When I became friends with him, one of the things he mentioned was that his dad played rugby in college. So, I kind of asked around about it and he sort of talked to me about it. I looked into it myself.”

Eventually, Tabak-Moreno would go to college, but before finding his home at St. Edward’s, he attended Stanford for a semester, where he witnessed their team practice and started to find an interest for the sport, so he decided to give it a try.

“I went out and I played touch, which isn’t full on contact – it’s just tag and you’re done… Then I came to St. Ed’s, because I transferred to St. Ed’s, and then I fell in love with it, I liked it a lot.”

His interest kept getting deeper and deeper, so much, in fact, that during the involvement fair, Tabak-Moreno went ahead and signed his name on the sheet the team had at their table. They asked him to come out to their practice the following Tuesday, of which he did, and he has yet to turn back.

“When I started off, my very first practice, we didn’t do any conditioning and I threw up. I was not fit to play, but I sure enough – our coach at the time, Steve, he made sure that I got to that fitness level,” Tabak-Moreno said.

It was an interesting time to join the team when he did as a freshman. The team that was known for their winning ways had finally secured their first-ever homefield game that year, a feat he was more than happy to be a part of. Ever since that year, the team has been able to secure more and more homefield games.

“We’ve always had assistance from the school, but being able to use school facilities, we’re just now being able to actually use [the facilities]. Seeing the club progress like that is interesting, and also being able to be president during that, to be able to help the club foster that growth the right way has always been a special thing for me,” he said.

However, his timing in joining the team was interesting for more than just being able to play on campus. Heading into the fall of 2016, there was a huge turnover due to the amount of seniors that had graduated, and it had a heavy impact on the club.

“We had a rocky season last year… we had lost about 10 or 11 seniors that were really good and had been playing for the team for maybe four or five years. They had a lot of weight on the way we went because they knew the sport, they were good players that were athletic…”

It was Tabak-Moreno’s first year as an officer for the team, merchandise officer to be exact. On top of having to manage the designing and selling of merchandise, he also dealt with the inevitable transition that results from graduating so many crucial players on the team, but as life goes, it was just another bump in the road. That year, came and went, and before he knew it, he was accepting the position of president for the 2017-2018 academic year.

“When I was asked whether or not I wanted to be president, I answered in a heartbeat that I wanted to be president,” Tabak-Moreno said with a grin wide enough to drive through, “because I just wanted to be able to see what I could do with this team, and so far it’s been phenomenal. I’ve had a great team of officers that have helped me push and reach all of my goals and do all of my objectives.”

One of the goals he had in mind as president was to fix the budget deficit that he inherited. Tabak-Moreno even used his education in finance to have an influx of funds to pull more weight for advertisers.

“We had started off with a debt of like $1000, and my goal was to end with at least $4000 to $5000 extra in the account, with a pretty substantial amount of new merchandise – which we’ve done, and different sources of income – which we’ve also done…” he said. “Once we can start generating revenue like that, we can start developing more value with our advertisers and start pushing for bigger and larger sponsorships, which is what I’ve wanted to do, long term.”

But, it wouldn’t be a year with Tabak-Moreno in the club without some more adversity, this time some of the hardest he’d face in his time with the team – his head coach would end up resigning before the end of last semester.

“We had a lot of new bodies on the team that didn’t ever play before and knowing Steve, he’s more of a teacher to the more advanced players,” Tabak-Moreno said. “Steve’s message just wasn’t working… what ended up happening is he stepped down a little earlier than anticipated, it was mostly because he decided that his method wasn’t working. He felt that he wasn’t going to add more to the team by being the coach and that we should find someone else to see if it would work.”

Ultimately, Tabak-Moreno said, the team’s general manager Brannen Ellyson, known by the team as BJ, would step in to fill the vacancy while they searched for a new head coach.

“BJ was able to step up… He really emphasized his ability to foster the team as a family, and that’s something that I’ll give him a lot of credit for. He’s really, really pushed everyone back together, we’re closer.”

Club rugby is currently in the middle of their head coaching search, hoping to secure someone in the next one to two months. They want to make sure they pick the right head coach that can get his message across to the entire team; they want a head coach who not only will make the team happy, but will be happy himself with the position as the team’s head coach.

In the end, the team’s discipline has gotten them the accolades they own and it will get them through this period of vacancy at the top. The team, and Tabak-Moreno will be the first to tell you, loves each other enough to get through this time.

“The point is that, whether we win or lose, we’re still a family, we’re still together, and that’s what I really wanted to make sure that happened – and that’s what has happened.”

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Amid adversity, club rugby president finds hope