Garcia credits athletics for skills

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 19, 1999

Joseph Garcia learned to be a leader in high school playing football and baseball at Cathedral High.

&uot;I think athletics in general helps you to experience teamwork and instill discipline,&uot; Garcia said. &uot;It definitely helped me to get to where I am.&uot;

Garcia is principal at South Grand Prairie (Texas) High School.

Email newsletter signup

Last month, Garcia’s school was one of 13 honored nationwide as a &uot;New American High School.&uot;

&uot;That was definitely quite an honor,&uot; said Garcia, who visited the White House and received the award from Secretary of State Richard Riley. &uot;It rates right up there at the top of my professional career.&uot;

Garcia graduated from Cathedral in 1984.

He played in the Green Wave backfield on offense and was an outside linebacker on defense.

In baseball, Garcia pitched for a team that won the state title his sophomore year and went all the way to South State his senior season.

&uot;I think those involved in athletics have a bit of an edge over those not involved,&uot; Garcia added. &uot;Athletics teaches you teamwork, and the camaraderie of working together. Everybody has to be focused on solving a problem. And you have to have communication skills to get it done.&uot;

Garcia realized South Grand Prairie High had the makings to receive its latest honor.

Since 1996, the U.S. Department of Education and the National Association of Secondary School Principals has encouraged reform efforts nationwide through the New American High Schools initiative.

The goals of the initiative are to identify leading-edge high schools from across the nation that have dramatically improved the quality of education for all students, and to assists high schools nationwide in that same endeavor.

&uot;Last summer I was reading some literature on this program and noticed we had some of those characteristics,&uot; Garcia said. &uot;I took it to some teachers and school officials and we ended up presenting a 45-page report to the organization.&uot;

That same type of teamwork helped Garcia during his high school career.

&uot;Our senior year, we lost to Mize 7-6 in the South State championship game,&uot; Garcia said. &uot;We beat Pelahatchie the week before, and they were ranked at the top of the state. Their guys laughed at how small we were when we got off the bus. They had the state’s leading running back and we knocked him out of the game in the second quarter and went on to win 21-0. Cathedral finished 11-2 that year in football.

&uot;That was a very close senior group,&uot; Garcia said. &uot;We had Tom Graning, Doug Mallory and Lucien Junkin and the friendships continue after football was over.&uot;

Ken Beesley was Garcia’s head coach, while Roy Garcia was the assistant coach and athletic director.

&uot;It’s definitely something I will cherish forever,&uot; Garcia said about playing under his father. &uot;Early on it was like, ‘He’s playing because of his dad.’ I just felt additional motivation to prove myself. Having my father there is hard to explain. It was just a great feeling knowing he was always there when I came off the field. And he didn’t talk about football at home unless I had something I wanted to talk about.&uot;

While he enjoys being at a 5A school, Garcia said he was happy to attend Cathedral.

&uot;It’s a different level, for sure,&uot; he said. &uot;But I’m glad I had the opportunity to play at a smaller school. We could participate in what sport we wanted, The competition level was challenging, yet we could succeed.&uot;

Garcia and his wife, the former Patrice Moroney, a Cathedral graduate, have one daughter, Christin. The Garcias are expecting their second child in late June of next year.