Alumni Spotlight: Julien Howsepian

When did you play for Davis ? 2004-2008

What position(s) did you play? Fly-half and fullback

What is your best memory with the club? So many great memories come to mind, but one in particular changed the trajectory of my life. I came to Davis as a cocky Bay Area kid, just barely missing out on a red tag into Cal. Naturally, Davis would be a holding ground while I worked on my transfer. Freshman year we lost to Cal in Berkeley 0-23. However, it was a mere 0-5 at halftime deficit, and only after a questionable yellow card against our Captain and All-American Locke Aaron Latzke did the Bears finally pull away. I witness some the most competitive, passionate sportsmanship from that UC Davis team, like nothing I had ever witnessed in my life. Before that game, I wanted to be a Bear. After the game, all I wanted to do was beat them. We never did of course but it was a game changer for me, which ultimately lead me down the path of studying Viticulture and Enology at Davis and pursuing a career in winemaking.
Possibly my second-best memory was beating St Mary’s my senior year at home 38-35, against a rousingly dominant Gael program, led by some of their top All-American’s and Eagle prospects. Personaly, that was the pinnacle of an epic rivalry between SMC and UCD, every match sure to be a nail biter full of grit and passion between two nationally contending programs. Unfortunately, a page from that rivalry ended my career as an Aggie, losing by 5 points in the playoffs in Moraga a couple months later. But without a doubt, one of the most competitive and thrilling games of my career in any sport despite the loss. That year they cruised to the Final Four, as I’m sure we would have done the same.

What did you do after graduating? I was fortunate enough to be selected to Pacific Coast Grizzlies for the second time, so I trained for that a couple months before moving to Tahoe with four Davis teammates. We enjoyed a great year in the woods battling the elements and the economy, having a hell of a time through and through.

What are you doing now? Currently I am the Assistant Winemaker at Kosta Browne Winery in Sebastopol, Ca. Team dynamics, cooperation, and a competitive drive has come to play in my career during stressful and exhaustive harvest seasons. I also played two more seasons for the Santa Rosa Rugby Club, alongside an impressive list of former Davis alumni, several of who have played for 15+ straight years!

Where do you hope to see the club in the future? When I was the President of the Club in 2008, I foresaw UC Davis competing with the likes of BYU, Cal Berkeley, Life University, St Mary’s, the Military Academies and other power houses on a consistent and competitive level year in and year out. I pushed for a Varsity program with the University, promising that Rugby was the next up and coming sport in America, much more so than Lacrosse. Unfortunately, the University did not share my vision and cooperate in building a cohesive, sustainable, and thriving rugby program.
I still think the program can get there one day, playing in front of hundreds if not a thousand fans in a stadium like the old (I don’t know what the current one looks like) soccer stadium, with a club-house, alumni, family and friends present. I would love to see the team competing nationally with the best top-grade teams, traveling on buses to away games, touring once or twice a year, and having a trainer or training staff at every team practice and game. Then of course finishing the season with a classic smack down against the alumni association!

What is your favorite Aspect of the game? The camaraderie of rugby has always been the most rewarding component of the game. In no other game is there such a powerful emphasis on a team, no individual able succeed without strong support. I also always loved embracing all the new players to the team, not just the experienced ones like the Tyler James Harrison’s that just show up unannounced ready to explode onto college rugby, but equally the likes of Sam Shackelford, Brian Rozell, Cody Moody’s, the dudes who had never played the game before who find themselves dominating through pure athleticism in no time at all. The social functions that contribute to the rugby culture, bridging programs and players to one another is also a unique and gratifying aspect to the game.