By Larry Lamb
CROCKETT -- Jacksonville College landed a three-sport athlete with the signing of Crockett High School senior Omar Garcia last Wednesday,
Garcia received scholarships in cross country, track and soccer from the East Texas junior college.
Garcia plans to major in kinesiology and pursue a career as a soccer coach or physical therapist.
"After my two years at Jacksonville, I'd like to get a full ride to run or play soccer with a DI program. Either one would be fine with me," said Garcia.
Garcia was a state qualifier in cross-country his senior season after winning the district title and advancing to regional for the third time.
He played soccer early in the season but decided to focus on track in hopes of reaching the state meet in the 800-meter, 1600-meter and two-mile races.
Garcia said his senior cross-country season is the most memorable. "We didn't have as many runners, but we created a bond and were like family. Everybody was so happy whenever one of our runners did well. That's what it's all about, supporting each other," he said.
Confronting adversity head-on, Garcia's road to success hasn't been easy.
He was designated to be the kicker for the Bulldogs football team his freshman year but had to undergo emergency brain surgery during two-a-days.
"It was a week before the start of school, so I missed my first day of high school," recalled Garcia.
"I told myself that as soon as I recovered from the surgery and got out of the hospital bed I was going to work harder than ever. My goal was to make it to state in either track or cross-country and I did it," said Garcia.
Because of his health issues, Garcia did not run cross-country his freshman year but was able to run track in the spring.
Garcia came back with a vengeance, qualifying for the cross-country regional meet his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. He decided to forego a regional appearance his sophomore year to attend the national FFA convention in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Crockett cross-country coach Jordan Heersink has watched Garcia's progress the past two seasons.
"Omar has the best work ethic I've seen in an athlete. He's intrinsically motivated and always out training on his own putting in extra work," said Heersink. "It doesn't matter what the weather is like. We had threatening weather earlier this week and he was the only one out there getting his workout in. He's a great hard worker and he's going to do really well in college."
Heersink said while Garcia possesses the endurance to run a 5K race, his speed makes him a big threat in the mile and 800-meter run.
"I'm really excited for him and proud to have been a part of his journey. I know he's going to do great things in college," the coach said.
Outside of school, Garcia enjoys singing in the choir at Good Shepherd Fellowship.
"I'm grateful for this opportunity to compete on the next level," said Garcia, whose parents are Hipolito Garcia and Maria Tovar.