Garcia retiring after 40 years of memories at Cathedral

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 13, 2008

NATCHEZ — When Roy Garcia is asked why he has spent almost his entire coaching and teaching career at Cathedral, the answer is simple. It’s all about family.

“This place is like family, and family means a lot to me,” Garcia said. “Everybody gives and takes and supports each other so much.”

While Garcia’s school family is important to him, his immediate family is more so, which is why the Green Wave athletic director has announced his retirement at the end of the school year after 40 years at the school and will move to McKinney, Texas with his wife Sara to be closer to their grandchildren.

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“This (Cathedral) has been my family for so long,” Garcia said. “The only reason I’m retiring is to see my immediate family and watch my grandkids grow up.”

As an appreciation to Garcia’s 40 years at Cathedral, the school is having a reception for him Saturday at 4 p.m. at the school’s cafeteria.

The public is invited to the event, and many of Garcia’s former students and players will be on hand, including current Atlanta Falcons defensive back Von Hutchins.

“I have a lot of respect for coach Garcia,” Hutchins said. “He’s a great person who has taught kids not only about athletics but about life as well.”

Hutchins said the thing he remembers most about Garcia is not just the athletic excellence he taught, but academic achievement as well.

“He taught a lot of kids the competitive drive and desire to play sports as well as stressed the importance of academics,” Hutchins said. “He’s a great guy and a special person to Cathedral.”

The bond Garcia has developed with his students comes from the desire he has always felt to help children.

He said he knew he wanted to be a coach and teacher by observing his high school coach at Rolling Fork High School, Ed Reed. He also had no aspirations of coaching at a level higher than high school.

“I just felt like I wanted to be around kids and do what I could to help them out,” Garcia said. “I never had aspirations to go any higher. I felt I could do good where I was.”

And not only does Garcia inspire the students he coaches and teaches, they inspire him as well.

“I love to be around them and help them any way I can,” he said. “It gives me a charge to see them improve and see that sparkle in their eye when they do something good.”

In his 40 years at Cathedral, Garcia has coached almost every sport offered at the school.

He has coached football, basketball, tennis, golf, softball and track.

His tennis teams won five consecutive state championships from 1971 to 1976.

His 1973 football team finished the season 9-1 in the days before the state playoff system, which is something Garcia considers his finest accomplishment as a high school coach.

The school’s gymnasium was named after him in 2002 and the school has honored him with the “Roy Garcia Award” given annually to a senior student who exemplifies character and contributions to the school and community.

Garcia has also been very active in the Mississippi Association of Coaches, serving as president of the organization as well as on the executive committee and board of directors.

He was also inducted into the Mississippi Association of Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003.

While all the awards and accolades are nice, Garcia said he has spent his lifetime in high school athletics simply because he loves his job.

“You’ve got to be enthusiastic and love your job,” Garcia said. “You need to find something you love to do, and I have.”

And while Garcia will be moving to Texas, he said Natchez is still where his heart is.

“Natchez is my home and I plan to visit often,” Garcia said. “I’ve got a lifetime of memories here.”