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BYU Women's Head Coach Tom Waqa to Step Down in October

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BYU Women's Head Coach Tom Waqa to Step Down in October

Tom Waqa and his players celebrate winning the 2022 D1 championship. Photo BYU Women's Rugby.

Longtime BYU women's Head Coach Tom Waqa is stepping down.

Waqa has coached the BYU women's team since 2004, first when it was a student-run club and then since 2015 when it became an official BYU extramural sport. Quiet, self-effacing, popular, and enormously successful, Waqa most recently led his Cougars to national D1 titles in 2019 and 2022. However, coaching BYU is not a full-time job by any means, and after accepting a new position as the IT Network Infrastructure Engineer within the CES Network Center OIT at BYU, Waqa realized he could not devote time to that new job, his family, and the rugby team, and something had to give.

Coach Sia Gomez will serve as interim Head Coach for the remainder of fall semester.

"Sometimes in our lives we are faced with difficult decisions, this significantly marks one of those times for me," Waqa said in an email to Goff Rugby Report and The Rugby Breakdown. "Today I announce that I’ll be stepping down as Head Coach of the BYU Women’s Rugby team; effective Monday October 10, 2022. This is bittersweet for me. Although I love BYU Women’s Rugby, my heart is saying that it is time for me to focus on what’s most important– my family and a new assignment with our current institution at BYU."

In a longer statement posted on the BYU Women's Team website, Waqa added:

"I'm proud of what we have achieved. Notably, BYU Women’s Rugby has a winning percentage of 0.8827 ~ 88.27% ...  The BYU Women’s Rugby program has been featured in USA Rugby Union and College Rugby Association of America’s playoffs, sweet 16, round of 8, and final 4 since 2008. Personally, I was honored to be nominated and receive the 2011-2012 United States Olympic Committee’s National Volunteer Coach of The Year Award.

"My heartfelt appreciation goes out to so many; the players, Assistant Coaches, Athletic Trainers, support staff, and BYU Administration, who have given so much of their time and talents to the program. To our fans- past and present, we couldn’t have done it without you- particularly our parents, and financial donors who have contributed so much to our success! Please continue to support the wonderful women that play for this program. To say this program changes lives is an understatement. I truly believe this program is built to prepare student-athletes for life beyond the pitch."

Waqa last full season saw his Cougars win the D1 spring title in dominant fashion, taking the final against Virginia Tech 80-7.

See full video of the final here>>

BYU opens their season this weekend against Utah Valley University.