"Everything that concerns you"

The Eagle's Eye

"Everything that concerns you"

The Eagle's Eye

"Everything that concerns you"

The Eagle's Eye

The final season

Coach Roy Tambunga will retire after more than 20 years with Akins
Cruz Morales
Coach Roy Tambunga talks with wrestler Jacob Ortiz at Akins High School against Bowie High School on Jan. 10. Ortiz won this match right after speaking with him.

After 20 years of teaching and coaching at Akins High School, and another 10 years of experience, Coach Roy Tambunga will be retiring at the end of the school year.

In his final year, as he prepares for retirement, Tambunga said he does not believe he has a legacy, despite praise from his coaching colleagues, students and the athletes he has coached. Instead, he just hopes to stay in contact with his friends at Akins.

Tambunga started teaching at Akins in 2002, just two years after the school opened. Before taking the job at Akins, he had worked as a wrestling coach at his previous job. With multiple pushes and receiving multiple rejections, Tambunga was able to create a wrestling period from a “zero-hour class,” which met before school started. From then on, he has inspired other schools to create wrestling periods, along with that, he has taken a competitor to the State UIL meets every year of his time at Akins. After shaping the wrestling team to be one of the best, being an educator, inspiration, and motivator, Tambunga will be retiring.

Athletic Coordinator Joey Saxe said Tambunga has had an impactful legacy at Akins whether he recognizes it or not.

“The legacy is like the relationship that he built with kids, helped change their lives through wrestling for better, he mentored kids, he’s just made such an impact,” he said. “You know, yes in wrestling, yes on the mat, but it’s beyond all that. He changes kids’ lives. He helps them with their academics. He helps them when they’re going through something, just life struggles. He just makes a difference with kids. Truly a game changer.”

As Coach Tambunga prepares for retirement, leaving a huge legacy, the wrestling class would have not been possible if he had not insisted on creating one.

“I used to always try to get an athletic period, and (the principal) would flat out every year, tell me no. Because she’s the one that quote said, ‘wrestling is a minor sport,’” Tambunga said.

While battling through these rejections, Tambunga kept helping his athletes in the zero hour, learning how to use loopholes to improve his athletes.

“I used to have conference eighth period. The soccer coach, we were real good friends, said, just put them all in my subclass. And I’ll send them to you,” Tambunga said. “So for almost 10 years, during my conference period, he would send me all my wrestlers, and I would work them out.”

Although Tambunga struggled to create a class for 10 years, Tambunga has been teaching at Akins for over 20 years, with English Teacher Rebecca Redland being one of the coworkers who has shared this long experience with him.

“I was at Akins when the school opened,” Redland said. “Coach Tambunga came to Akins a few years after we opened.  I remember meeting him and thinking that he was a good fit for our new school; I was so happy that he chose to work at Akins.”

Throughout the years of watching Akins grow, the school differs greatly from when Tambunga first started at Akins. While sharing few experiences with teachers, Tambunga now looks at the school through a different lens.

“Changes can be a little bit difficult because the focus moves and shifts into stuff that you may or may not agree should be the focus,” Tambunga said. “You start feeling like a little fish out of water a little bit.”

After multiple years of giving up his conference period, and successes of the wrestlers, the wrestling class was finally created. Even without the class, Tambunga created successful wrestlers who every year have competed in the State UIL meet.

“Just every kid that he’s put to the state tournament, to the next level, he has several athletes that went on to wrestle in college which you know is great because they get to continue to do what they love to do,” Saxe said.

While Coach Saxe celebrates his success, he describes his work as a standard of excellence to be followed. Even then, he believes the relationships he has built have surpassed any wins, Tambunga said he believes his successes was realized through forging strong relationships with athletes instead of just earning medals.

“I’ve been to, you know, quinces, I’ve been to weddings, and funerals, unfortunately, and stuff like that,” Tambuga said. “But that’s the biggest accomplishment, I got to meet and be with a lot of people, be a part of a lot of people’s lives.”

In his final year, as Tambunga prepares to say goodbye, he hopes to continue to be a part of the lives of the Akins community.

“I’m perfectly fine with just going on, you know, it doesn’t bother me. I don’t want all this stuff,” Tambunga said. “I just, I would like for the kids, the people that I’ve been in contact with, to keep in contact. I want to see when they grow old and when they get married. And when they have kids.”

Redland, who has shared some of these experiences with him, believes he has truly changed students’ lives. With all the years of working together, she has seen the changes he has made to the program and for students.

“I will miss his smile, his leadership, and his presence on campus,” Redland said. “Thank you for making the decision to work at Akins. Thank you for the many hours that you have dedicated to the students in your classroom and in the gym. You have changed lives. I will miss you.”

Redland won’t be the only one to miss Tambunga. After changing lives for 20 years, he continues to impact his wrestlers today.

“I appreciate you for everything you have done for me, pushing me hard in practice, and making me the best wrestler I can be,” senior Yahya Pierre said.

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Adamaris Olivares-Lopez
Adamaris Olivares-Lopez, Sports Editor
Grade: 12th Grade Academy: New Tech Number of Years on Staff: 1st Year Title: Sports Editor Why do you enjoy being on staff? I have a creative outlet that I can showcase. What do you do for fun? I read and binge-watch a series. What are your hobbies? I do photography and writing. Hopes & Dreams after high school? I hope to become a sports photojournalist.
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