latinx at lmu: alejandro moreno, men's tennis
Alejandro (Alex Moreno) Moreno, assistant Coach of LMU’s men’s tennis team, proudly celebrates his Latino heritage as he strives to implement many personal values onto his student-athletes and the greater Latinx community.
Born in Mexico City, Moreno reflects on the memories he had growing up. As a child, Moreno was heavily involved in soccer as well as education. Moreno says, “I was lucky enough to go to an American school, so I started learning English when I was really young…I think that played a big role in wanting to come to the U.S. for college at some point.” Moreno would then go on to play four seasons of collegiate tennis at Pepperdine University and earned his degree in international business. With his experience of living in both Mexico and the United States, Moreno says his upbringing was a mix of both cultures. Moreno specifically reflects on his Mexican culture and the impact family had on him. Moreno highlights the emphasis of family, with appreciation of big gatherings like big family Christmases or Sunday barbecues with 30 people. “I used to love that…those are the things I miss the most from when I was a kid.” Moreno says.
Though Moreno is not back home in Mexico, he takes advantage of this month’s celebration to take a glimpse back at where he is from. As September 16th celebrates Mexico’s independence, Moreno says, “I see all my friends back home right now posting the flag and everything…you miss that, but having this heritage month here kind of brings it to me in a sense…and makes me understand that we are appreciated here. I’m a proud Mexican and I’m also a proud immigrant.” Being so far away from his home, this month allows Moreno to have a sense of belonging, which then propels him to find more ways to keep pushing forward and grinding.
Family also plays a big role as to where Moreno gets his motivation and pride from. Moreno holds deep appreciation for his parents. “[My parents] really gave me an example of hard work,” Moreno says. Both Moreno’s parents left their homes at 13 years old to go from their small town to Mexico City in order to study. During this time, Moreno’s father cleaned cafeterias in order to pay college tuition for himself, while Moreno’s mother woke up at 4:00 a.m. to take three buses in order to get to class. Seeing their persistent dedication set a strong example for Moreno. Moreno saw his parents achieve great things, as his mother became a doctor, and his father became an engineer and architect. Moreno’s parents placed upon him how important it is to “never give up, always better yourself, try to study, try to educate yourself…and never complain…if you can’t change the situation, you better change your attitude about it.” Not only has his parent’s advice helped Moreno in the sports world, but now that he is a coach, it has also helped him imprint those same messages onto his student athletes.
Although Moreno is now a successful coach at Loyola Marymount University, he remains grateful of the many individuals he has come across along the way. This trait of appreciation is also another value that Moreno’s father had stressed to him growing up. Moreno says, “I wouldn’t be here without all those people that I’ve met throughout my journey…and people that have brought me here– head coach, Tom Lloyd, gave me the opportunity to be part of the LMU family.” Moreno also expresses his gratitude by being more than just a coach, but also a resource to those who “may need someone to talk to or may need some help, some advice…when we surround ourselves with people that are going to where we want to go…it’s a better journey.”
Because Moreno understands that many have helped him through his process, he wants to do the same for others in order to push young Latinx individuals to follow their own dreams. As a tennis coach, Moreno explains that “when you put in the work…and you’re doing all things you need to do to be a professional…it’s going to help [Latinx] get to heights where our platforms are going to be way more visible…and people are going to be able to hear are stories and see how much we hustle to get to where we are.” As he reflects on his own childhood, Moreno states the idols he looked up to were soccer players, whom he could relate to, as they also came from small towns. As he sees some of his idols now playing on television, Moreno explains that is the very reason why the Latinx community needs more successful individuals as a point of inspiration. “We need more Latinx people to be able to take that journey in order to pull everyone else with them…We need idols, we need someone to look up to…When you get that, you think you can do it too.” Moreno expresses.
As Moreno steadily works to instill hope and drive within the student athletes of our LMU family, he also continues to be a representation of motivation for his Latinx community as a whole.