MONTGOMERY: Garcia honored for leadership at Rowan

MHS graduate helped football team reach goals

By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
   Chris Garcia had definite goals about what he wanted to accomplish on the field and off the field when he arrived at Rowan University.
   Garcia, a Montgomery High graduate, started his college career at Monmouth University before transferring to Rowan. At Rowan, he became the player and leader he has strived to be since his high school days with the Cougars.
   ”It worked out well,” said Garcia, who graduated from Rowan in May. “I was happy. I worked hard when first got (to Rowan). I was the new guy so I worked hard to prove myself and earn the respect of my teammates. By senior year it had paid off and I was one of two captains on the team.”
   Garcia took his role as a leader quite seriously and his efforts were noticed by those around him. At last month’s Rowan All-American Banquet, Garcia was honored with the Joy Solomen Leadership Award, which is given to one male and one female student-athlete. The recipients must be in their third or fourth season with a 3.0 GPA or higher. The honorees have to show strong leadership qualities and a dedication and passion to Rowan athletics.
   ”My coach at Rowan said ‘Chris is like having another coach on the field,’ and that is why I think I was always a captain in high school and college,” said Garcia, who will teach and coach at J-P Stevens High School in Edison this upcoming school year. “I made it a point to walk the walk and talk the talk and never ask someone to do something I wouldn’t do.
   ”We’ve started some summer workouts at J-P Stevens and as a coach I notice it with the kids I am coaching because I just lived it. I have always wanted to be a coach, even when I was at Montgomery. I had great role models with Zoran (Milich), (Kris) Grundy and Cory Delgado. They are still helping me. They are my mentors and I still talk with them regularly. I just talked with Zoran about some Wing-T stuff.”
   Garcia finished his career at Rowan with some impressive credentials. A tight end, he caught 14 passes for 133 yards and four touchdowns. He was selected to the NJAC All-Conference first team and was honored by the Adam Taliaferro Foundation as one of its Players of the Year. A Rowan Scholar-Athlete, Garcia received NJAC All-Academic honorable mention honors in 2012 and 2011. He majored in health and physical education with a 3.446 GPA.
   ”The Adam Taliaferro Award was a great honor,” Garcia said. “They had some big schools and some smaller from the Philly area. I got to go to a banquet with my coach at Lincoln Financial Field and they gave us a tour of the locker room and press room and a tour of the whole stadium. We got to go on the field and met Adam, which is great.”
   As a senior, Garcia helped the Profs to a 7-3 record and a berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs, which was a goal of the entire team all season long.
   ”We were the first team since 2006 to go to the playoffs,” Garcia said. “It was great senior leadership across the board — not just me and the other captain. We had a lot of all-conference guys who did a lot of good things. We dotted the Is and crossed the Ts and worked hard as a team lifting and during summer and winter workouts making sure everyone was accountable for their actions.”
   His leadership paid off on the field and off, where he and swimmer Theresa Stearns earned the schools highest leadership honor in the athletic department with the Joy Solomen Award.
   ”They give it to someone who shows leadership on and off the field and is in good academic standing,” Garcia said. “It is definitely a huge honor because Joy Solomen was the former Rowan AD and she is very well respected.
   ”For me, I wanted to take what happened at Montgomery High and bring it to the college stage and I think by my senior year we accomplished that. It helped to bring my team to the playoffs, which was our major goal. Rowan has such a great tradition and I wanted to do everything in my power to get to where I wanted us to get.”