Ivy Leaf - Spring 2004

On the Move


David Garcia puts his excess energy to work on the soccer field – and is named Second Team Regional All-American in the process.

When David Garcia was five years old, his mother enrolled him in the local AYSO soccer league because he had too much energy.

She had no idea what she was starting.

"I had a lot of energy as a kid and she wanted to put me in a sport where I would be running," said Garcia. "And she said soccer worked; it tired me out."

Last fall the freshman phenom ran himself right into the history books at Penn State Altoona as the first athlete at Ivyside Park to be named Second Team Regional All-American. Garcia joins Jared Bucher in that elite category of Regional All-American. Bucher was named as a Third Team Regional All-American in 2002 as a sophomore.

"As a player, David really complemented the strength of our team this year," said Lion head coach John Parente. "We were pretty defensively oriented, had a quick strike, and with his speed and quickness, David fit very well with the team we had in place. The combination of everybody together made it a very strong team."

For Garcia, soccer was the only way to go. He tried other sports, but his high energy hadn't worn off with young adulthood. The freshman forward likes activities that keep him moving.

"I tried track but it was too much standing around," said Garcia. "I can't do the whole stand and wait, and then do your thing and then stand and wait. That's what I like about soccer, you're always running and always moving."

The Selinsgrove, PA, native did very little standing around with the Lions last fall. As a freshman, Garcia led the Lions with 17 goals and four assists, setting school records for both goals and points. Of those 17 goals, seven were game winners. But if you ask Garcia, those numbers weren't what he had in mind at the start of the season.

"I was trying to score between 20 and 25 goals for this year," said Garcia. "In reality that's unlikely for a freshman, but I set them that way because it drives me to get to that point."

Garcia actually exceeded that personal goal, finishing with 38 total points, averaging two per contest and being involved in almost 38 percent of the offense. At one point he was ranked 25th in the country for NCAA Division III in goals per game.

"David is a good kid and he worked hard at every practice. He's sort of a dream in terms of what you're looking for out of a freshman. And the guys on the team love him; he gets along with everyone." — Coach John Parente

Garcia came into the Penn State Altoona soccer program as a former two-time all-state player in high school. Aside from the All-American honors, Garcia was also named to the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) All-Conference team. His stellar performance on the field also secured the AMCC Newcomer of the Year honor, as well as runner-up for AMCC player of the year.

Despite the many honors he has received, Parente finds his star freshman very humble and very coachable. "For a kid that has had so many accolades, he continues to be very easy to coach. He isn't afraid to learn new things and he's not afraid to ask questions. If there's something we want him to do he's always willing to try. He's just a very humble kid."

For Garcia, it's not about the things he has done. It's about what he still needs to do as a player.

"Playing on traveling teams, I've seen kids who are 100 times better than me," said Garcia. "When you're in a small town, people will tell you how good you are. But then you go away to tournaments with 300 teams and you see kids who are so much better and you just realize how much talent is out there."

Garcia is certainly a cornerstone for the 2004-05 Lions and Parente expects that the more exposure the Lions and the young forward get, the more attention he may receive. But Garcia's main goals for next year aren't individual ones. As a sophomore, the quick-footed forward hopes to help his team win a berth in the NCAA tournament.

Of all the great feats that Garcia accomplished in his first year at Penn State Altoona, the ones that most stand out to his coach are the ones that you don't see on the stat sheet.

"A couple times this year he let the ball go through his legs, to his teammate behind him and his teammate scored the goal," said Parente. "It's just a great unselfish play and that's the kind of stuff David does for the team."