Below is an original article written by the Tucson Renegades Coach, Chris Cook. It served as the inspiration for my more detailed account of my first year in Quad Rugby:
Tucson Renegades Rugby Article Featuring Our Newest Player Pasqual (Paco) Torres
After finishing 2nd in D1 at Nationals in Louisville in April 2015, losing somewhat decisively to our inner state rival and defending National Champion Phoenix Heat, we were disappointed, but we knew we had to continue to work hard to achieve our goal.
We also knew our 2014-15 import Leon Jorgensen from Denmark would not return this year. So where do we go from here?
With an Olympic year ahead and the collective reasoning of many top teams not to go the route of importing talent but instead to play with what we have here at home and further develop our own talent, we uncovered a gem.
Leon actually made the connection, meeting Pasqual (Paco) Torres on the basketball court in Tucson. Paco was already practicing hoops in Tucson two nights per week, and his plate was full. However, Leon was persistent, and, after the third time asking, Paco came out to a rugby practice. Ironically, our Danish import 3.0 had recruited his 3.5 replacement. Furthermore, both U of A and Phoenix had met Paco and tried recruiting him, but finally Paco felt like the Renegades were the best fit.
Paco, who is 37-years-old and in phenomenal shape, is a congenital bilateral amputee (better known in quad rugby speak as a “freak” for his high level of function). He was an accomplished high school wrestler prior to finding out about wheelchair sports. His overall love for sports, combined with his intellect, instinct, and chair skills, enabled him to grasp the game very quickly. Teammate Chad Cohn obtained a used Vesco chair from another quad amp, Nick Springer, and, while it doesn’t fit him perfectly, it has served Paco well the past several months.
Through diligent practice and being a great listener, Paco has gone from an off-the-bench player garnering occasional minutes to being in a regular rotation against many of the top teams in D1. We only have 7 rostered players this year, and 6 of them are qualified for post-season. Due to the schedule conflict between USQRA Nationals and IWRF Paris qualifying tournament in April – and the fact that Josh Wheeler, Adam Scaturro, and Chad Cohn are on Team USA and heading for Paris – we are left with 3 players for Nationals. Mountain Sectionals will be Tucson’s last tournament this year. Consequently, outstanding rookie Pasqual Torres’ skills and rapid assent as a 3.5 will not be showcased at Nationals. He has applied for a Challenged Athletes Foundation Grant and, if awarded, he will be properly fit with his own chair by next season. We are thrilled to have Paco on the team and excited about the future.
When Paco is not on the court, he is employed doing Litigation Technology for the US Attorney in Tucson. He is also the father of two girls, Anabella age 9 and Lynnea age 11, from a previous marriage. He is currently married to Emily Eldredge, who has also been an amazing helper and brought great energy to the Tucson Rugby Program.