Benny Munoz/The Madera Tribune
Madera South senior Christian Garcia, second from left, stands with his family during Senior Night, including his brother, Enrique, far right, who is his coach with the Stallions boys soccer team.
For the Madera South Stallions boys soccer team, its chemistry and familiarity with one another shows when they take the pitch — its cohesiveness resembles a family.
That unity emulates from a bond unlike many in the County/Metro Athletic Conference.
Together, Madera South head coach Enrique Garcia and his brother, senior midfielder, Christian Garcia are taking the Stallions to new heights.
“It’s a dream to be able to coach your brother and see him play and develop like he’s done over the years,” Enrique Garcia said. “Yes, we bump heads sometimes, but I’m always there for him and I’ve always just wanted to help him grow up and develop as a player.”
Both the Garcia brothers followed the same path in their young soccer careers. Before Christian, Enrique was a standout at Madera South. His play on the pitch in his days was one of the reasons his younger brother Christian found his home on the field as well.
“I see a lot of things he does and things he used to do and I’m just like, wow, that’s something I can really work into the game myself,” Christian said. “We train together often and I just try to study and play the way he does because he’s probably one of the best players I’ve ever seen play.”
Enrique was a four-year varsity player for the Stallions before playing at the College of Sequoias in Visalia before coming back to Madera South as a coach.
His style of play — similar to his younger brother — was a bit of everything.
“Growing up, I played as a winger and in high school I transitioned to a central midfielder. In college, I played some center back, forward and winger,” Garcia said. “I played pretty much everywhere.”
After his career finished at COS, Garcia got into coaching with the help of former Madera South coaches — Cristino Armiento, Bobby Gutierrez and Fernando Delgadillo, along with many others during his career.
Garcia wanted to give back to the youth, what was offered to him during his days as a player.
“It’s the impact that they’ve had in our lives,” Garcia said. “From the personal issues that go on in your life and them being there for you and they help you go through it. You see their personal issues that go on in their life and they are still there to help you. They are just giving the youth an opportunity.”
Garcia coached the Stallions’ junior varsity team, before transitioning to an assistant under Delgadillo before taking the reins as head coach last season. Having the guidance and tutelage of Delgadillo along the way was important in Garcia’s development as a coach for Madera South.
“When he went from head coach to assistant, during that transition, he was always there. There has never been an issue between us. We just continue to grow ourselves and help the kids develop into great players and great young men,” Garcia said. “We both have similar mindsets. We want to win, we want to develop and we want to teach.”
Garcia has won 33 matches and his team has outscored his opponents 142-58 over his two-year career.
The results speak for themselves, but the time behind the scenes to make the Stallions tick, is a more than a full-time job.
“It takes a lot of time from your life being a head coach,” Garcia said. “Just knowing that a majority of us here at the program have been walk-on coaches, meaning we have other jobs and life issues that make things difficult.”
Despite the challenges, Garcia’s commitment to the youth that stand where he once stood continues to show in his players’ performances.
“Being able to be out there with the kids and to see the enjoyment they have being out there is important, along with gaining experience,” Garcia said. “This program is built on former players coming back, so we want that to continue and we want to keep giving back to the kids.”
One of the kids he has now, his young brother Christian, is a lot like himself in many ways, making it easier to communicate on the pitch. The pair see similar things during games and in practice and have a working relationship unlike many. However, the Madera South locker room is treated equally.
The players who work the hardest on and off the pitch, in-and-out of the classroom and have strong character are the ones who play and luckily for the coach, his younger brother is one of them.
“His performances the past four years have been amazing to watch. Watching him step up and play varsity his freshman year and seeing his development along the way under Delgadillo has been amazing,” Garcia said. “He helped out a lot during his sophomore year during that run to the valley final where we lost to Dinuba. He’s stepped up in big moments throughout his career.”
In his final shot at a championship, Christian is having the best year of his career — scoring or assisting on more than 40 goals for Madera South. When asked what he things about on the pitch, Christian pointed to his all-around play on the pitch as his way of making an impact.
“Any opportunity I can get to either put someone in a good position or find space for myself, the main goal is helping the team. To me, it doesn’t matter who’s scoring those goals as long as we are winning. Being in my last year, everything is on the line.”