Texas Border Business
By Priscilla Ramirez
Rio Grande Valley, TEXAS – For the men’s intramural flag football team at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, there was no better way to ring in the New Year than by winning the national title.
Avid “Game of Throne” fans, the UTRGV team call themselves “Ravens.”
They earned the 2018 National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) National Flag Football Championship title during a national tournament held in Pensacola, Fla., Jan. 3-6.
UTRGV defeated Georgia College, 40-26, in the men’s division championship game.
Leading the charge was Armando “AJ” Garza, a UTRGV graduate student, the team captain and the squad’s coach/organizer.
The team is based on camaraderie and an enjoyment of competition, he said.
“Playing is easy for all of us. We play against each other in different McAllen leagues and it just so happens that we go to the same school, so we got together and decided to compete for UTRGV,” he said.
The Ravens had an excellent record heading into the nationals competition, finishing second at the NIRSA Men’s Region IV Championships in Austin in early November.
Texas is one of the biggest competitive states in the sport, Garza said, and once you compete there, “you can compete anywhere.”
The team also took home National All-Tournament honors for three individuals who exceled in the sport: Diego Chrysler, Salvador Martinez and Garza.
Garza also was recognized as Most Valuable Player in the men’s division.
“Everyone there was doubting us because we don’t look that impressive,” he said. “Other teams were drilling their warmups, had coaches on the sidelines. And there we were, running laps or just stretching before a game.”
With the season over and most of his teammates graduating, Garza said the future of the Ravens will depend on people’s interest, but UTRGV always has a future in competitive intramurals.
“There are a lot of sports for people to try out,” he said. “I recommend that anyone who has time go to the UREC and sign up.”
The national championship team includes:
- AJ Garza – La Villa.
- Isaac Martinez – Elsa.
- Sal Martinez – Edinburg.
- Diego Chrysler – Sharyland.
- DJ Talamantez – McAllen.
- Rollie Martinez – Elsa.
- Michael Flores – Brownsville.
- Bobby Guajardo – San Juan.