Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera Coyote volleyball player Brian Garcia signs his National Letter of Intent on Nov. 10 to UC Irvine while his parents Amparo and Robert Garcia look on.
By signing his National Letter of Intent, Madera Coyote boys volleyball player Brian Garcia became the school’s first boys volleyball player to sign with a four-year college.
Garcia will spend the next four years at UC Irvine after his signing ceremony Friday in front of family and friends in the Madera High School cafeteria.
“It makes me feel accomplished, especially since I’m going to a Div. I college,” he said. “It’s a good reward to have achieved. I feel happy with myself.”
“It’s awesome for him,” boys volleyball head coach Rhonda Jefferson said. “I’ve only had had one other player play in college.”
Garcia said UC Santa Barbara and Hawaii were other schools looking at him. However, he only took a visit to UC Irvine and that was enough.
“The UC Irvine campus is really nice,” he said. “It’s a different feel. That whole environment is unbelievable. I felt connected with the program and everything all around.”
Garcia first was in contact with UC Irvine in June at a tournament in Anaheim.
“All of the colleges go to that tournament,” he said. “On the first day, we finished pool play and my coach pulled me aside. He introduced me to the UC Irvine school. They wanted me to visit the campus after the tournament. Just to get recruited from any school is really hard to get noticed. Out of those athletes, I get to play in college. It’s unbelievable to be able to do that.”
Garcia realized how important of a step it was to sign his letter of intent to play volleyball next season.
“I felt like I went up a step in my goals,” he said. “I keep trying to go up to get to the highest level possible. I’ve been watching film of them play and thought I want to play with them. Now, it’s true.”
Garcia, who played a number of positions for the Coyotes while leading them to a Div. II Valley Championship last year, will set for the four-time NCAA champions.
“Their coach just sees me anywhere on the court,” Garcia said. “He wants me to be a leader on the court and help make the program succeed. The coach feels I can help lead the team to a championship. If he needs me anywhere, I’ll be able to do that, too.”
“He played a huge role in us winning a Valley Championship,” Jefferson said. “His versatility was a plus. He can hit, he can set and he can serve. He’s still growing.”
Garcia will major in psychology to become a counselor or a psychologist.
Next to Garcia, the happiest person when he signed his letter of intent was his mother, who drove him to club volleyball practices with a six-hour round trip.
“My mom is really happy,” Garcia said. “That was the whole point of getting a scholarship to repay my mom. My mom only worries about is seeing me in a jersey and knows that I’m safe and doing well.”
Now that Garcia is signed for next year, he can finally relax and enjoy his senior year and his final high school volleyball season.
“I felt really relieved,” he said. “Going into last summer, I was afraid I wasn’t going to commit to a school. I was hoping to commit in July. I’m just very happy to sign.
“I just want to have a good season. It doesn’t matter if we don’t win a valley championship. I just want to have a good season.”