BOULDER, Colo. – The holidays are a season of giving, and the San Diego State rugby team has been in a generous mood as of late. Teaming up with the Waste Management of Southern California and the California Highway Patrol, the Aztecs raised money, and personally donated items, for the 13th annual Chips For Kids toy drive.
San Diego State Assistant Coach and Aztec Rugby alum James Daleo is an environmental consultant for Waste Management, and attempted to spearhead the rugby team’s participation in the toy drive, but it wasn’t until the involvement of prop Adahir Aguilera that the Aztecs began to effectively contribute to the Chips For Kids collection.
“One of the team’s values that the coaching staff has instilled in the program is giving back to the community,” said Aguilera. “The motivation comes from wanting to do a little something for kids who are less fortunate. Putting a smile on a kid’s face and helping out is a contagious feeling.”
Working with the athletes during training sessions, and playing against them as a member of Old Mission Beach Athletic Club, Daleo already knew the Aztecs’ roster was filled with high-caliber people, yet he continues to be impressed.
“These are a great group of guys,” Daleo complimented. “Not only are they a great team on the pitch, but it is clear that they are great men, as well.
“To be honest, I didn’t expect a lot from the team. Extra money is a big thing, especially when you are in college. It was refreshing to see the selflessness on display.”
With the help of the Aztecs, Waste Management’s San Diego office collected more than 450 toys, which far succeeds any other California office.
San Diego State Head Coach Alex Lichtig, who also lent his time to raise awareness of and gather toys for Chips For Kids, is pleased with his players’ fundraising efforts.
“Our program is happy to give back to the local community that is so supportive of our sport and our university,” stated Lichtig. “I’m proud that our club can partner with industry leaders like Waste Management, and that our players are able to be leaders, not just on the field, but in the community, as well.”
As for the on-the-pitch stuff, the Aztecs are a young but talented bunch, eager to make its mark in the California Conference, and return to the D1A Playoffs after narrowly missing out on the 2015 postseason. A recent outing against the Australian Indigenous U20 team ended in a losing effort, but the team showed a great deal of promise against the talented touring side from the land down under.
“The collective feeling of the team for the upcoming season is excitement,” described Aguilera. “We were a bit disappointed that we couldn’t pull it out against a tough Aussie team, but it showed us that we can hang with a pretty good team. We are looking forward to the challenge of playing some of the top teams in the country week in and week out this coming season.”