Nick & Uliana Morari
Moldova | CEO & Co-founder | Admirals Basketball
Nick and Uliana lead the Admirals Basketball Academy, which seeks to serve the youth of Moldova through basketball while sharing the gospel, discipling new believers, and training them to be transformational leaders in society.
Read more about their family and background below!
CEO and co-founder of the Admirals Basketball Academy, Nick Morari, has used the platform of sports to bring hope to people in Eurasia for over 20 years.
Nick’s father had a tough short life. He spent 11 years in prison before meeting Nick’s mom. During the 1990s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Nick’s mother had to work several jobs. To help his family, Nick began working to the age of 14. His jobs included cleaning toilets, washing dishes at a night club, construction, night guarding.
Because of the hopeless family situation, Nick’s Dad sought to escape circumstances through hard drinking. He died in 1997, at the age of 47, because of an ulcer. Nick recalls, “Had we had any money at the time; we could have saved him. Mom was working in Russia when dad died.”
Because of the family’s hard life, Nick was the only child. For him, stealing was a usual way of life, helping to meet basic needs.
Like others in his part of the world, Nick had nothing to look forward to. He had no understanding of the value of life. Without any future, he “hung out” out with gang members, wasting his life.
In 1995, Nick’s cousin invited Nick to play on an amateur basketball team. Nick had never before played this game but immediately fell in love with it. Most players on the team were members of an evangelical Kishinev Bible Church, pastored by Ronald Helton.
During that summer, a group of Physical Education teachers and coaches from Texas organized a basketball camp. Their purpose was to share the Gospel. Among their number were Tony Salas and Fred Currie, from San Antonio, TX. Through their example and encouragement, Nick decided to become a Christian. As he matured in his new faith, God filled his life with spiritual meaning. The Lord gave purpose to his life – to serve Him and people, leading Nick into an unknown future.
From 1997 – 2001, Nick studied at the Moldova Bible Seminary, founded by Ronald and Dorcas Helton, missionaries from San Antonio, Texas. Many MBS teachers greatly influenced the lives of Nick and the other students. Among them were Pete and Joyce Velasques.
In 1998, Nick came across the written testimony of David Robinson. It so impressed him that Nick translated it into Russian and began distributing it. This led to the beginning of a new sports ministry at Kishinev Bible Church called “The Race.” With a friend and fellow student, Nick prayed to one day meet David Robinson, “The Admiral.”
With the support of Pete and Joyce, Nick traveled to the USA in 2001, for the first time. The purpose was to meet Coach Don Eddy, learn about his basketball camps, and discover how to grow an evangelistic basketball ministry in Moldova. Very quickly, coach Eddy became a father figure for Nick.
Uliana’s family was also affected by the crisis created by the fall of the Soviet Union. Unlike Nick, she was born into a larger family, having an older brother and two sisters. Her dad was hit by a car and died while working in Russia in 2000. He was 53 years of age.
The death of the father raised many questions. One of them concerned Uliana’s identity. In 2001 she became a Christian through the ministry of the local Evangelical church and found her identity in Christ.
Growing up, Uliana has been a volleyball player. Upon graduating from high school, she received a scholarship to study at the Academy of Economic Science in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. When she moved to Chisinau (Moldova’s capital) from her city of Glodeni, her monthly allowance from mom was less than $15.
By 2002, Nick had joined the staff of Cru and began helping to start Athletes in Action in Moldova. God’s new ministry for Nick now expanded to reach adults in the professional and semi-professional arena. During a 2003 Athletes in Action sports conference in Moldova, Nick met Uliana among the participants. A year later, they were married.
After the prayer, years later in 2005 it was that Nick met David Robinson at a Bible Study. Over the next years, they became friends. At the same time, questions in Nick’s mind began to take shape. “Why has God allowed this to happen?” The answers started to come in the following years.
Nick joined the ministry of SportQuest in 2008 and took up leadership responsibilities within the International Sports Coalition. During this time, God gave Nick the vision for the Admirals Basketball Academy.
In 2012, the Admirals Basketball Academy was born and co-founded with Darryl Lyons and J.K. Leonard of San Antonio, TX.
Through all of the years, through all of the struggles, God has drawn many young people to basketball courts across Moldova and throughout Eurasia. While learning to win the game of basketball, lots of them have discovered their own relationship with Jesus Christ. A few now serve Christ alongside Nick and Uliana at the Admirals Basketball Academy!
Nick and Uliana live in the capital of Moldova, Chisinau. They have five children: Nick (16), Anastasia (14), Elizabeth (5), Eva (3), and Jacob – their newborn!