Southern community mourns sudden death of 22-year-old soccer player.
Loyalty, a zest for life, and team leadership, are all qualities friends and colleagues say they will miss about Denine Tahbaz.
Tahbaz, a junior geography major and member of the Missouri Southern Lions Soccer team, died on Wednesday, Feb. 27, from complications from a tumor.
The 22-year-old joined the team three years ago, as a transfer student from Golden West College in Huntington Beach, California.
Dr. Alan Marble, Missouri Southern’s president, said Tahbaz was a gifted athlete.
“[She was a] dedicated student who brought joy to everyone around her, “ Marble said in a statement released after Tahbaz’s death.
In the last week, members of the Missouri Southern community took part in a variety of events to honor Tahbaz’s legacy and life.
On March 5, officials from the Missouri Southern Athletic department hosted a candlelight vigil with more than 50 students, staff, and teammates remembering Tahbaz.
Multiple fundraisers and events to remember Tahbaz have taken place including one with Gusanos Pizza which helped provide monies for the traveling expenses of the Tahbaz family.
Officials with The Runaround Joplin partnered with Midwestern Build CrossFit to host a drawing of shoes, also to help out with the traveling expenses.
Additional donations are being accepted at www.mssu.edu/give-now. Those making donations are asked to put Tahbaz’s name in the restriction field. Funeral arrangements are pending as of press time.
More about Tahbaz
A native of Rancho Palos Verdes, California, she is the daughter of Michael and Liz Tahbaz.
In her three years as a Missouri Southern Lion, Tahbaz had proven herself to be one of the soccer team’s leaders.
Officials said she helped the team achieve one of its most successful seasons in recent history. This year, Tahbaz played in 15 matches with three starts, recording four shots. In her career, she saw action in 32 matches with eight starts.
But Tahbaz was more than just a Missouri Southern athlete, To her head coach Chris Mcnaughton she was a leader.
“Denine took responsibility for the team running for an hour straight the last session of the spring of 2018,” Mcnaughton said. “She was late, but so was about half of the team.
“She felt terrible and apologized to her teammates.”
Mcnaughton said he will remember Tahbaz’s personality, her smile, her zest for life, her selflessness, and her loyalty.
During the candlelight vigil, Carterville Christian Church pastor Damian Spickerit spoke to those gathered.
“Whenever you face tragedy of this kind of someone who is this young and this full of life its extremely difficult,” Spickerit said. “After hearing many stories about her, I’ve realized the way Denine played on the field is the way she lived her life off the field.
“Her position she played on the field required somebody who could run on the field with passion and help the people around her. She was a person who lived life with passion and energy. She always brought joy and happiness to the people around her.”
Her teammate and friend, Brianna Smith, said Tahbaz was a joyful person, who lived her life not afraid to dance or sing in front of the crowd.
“She was always dancing and always singing,” Smith said. “I never head anything negative out of her and she always made the little things count.
“She made an impact on everyone’s life and everyone has a positive story about her.”
Smith said Tahbaz encouraged her teammates to go beyond their comfort zones by using herself as an example.
“Her voice is going to be what I miss the most,” Smith said. “It was just too soon for her to go.”