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Maria Garcia, a two-year member of the Morton College women’s soccer team, has an important message to share with her fellow student-athletes. She now is studying occupational therapy and playing on the women’s soccer team at Calumet College of St. Joseph in Hammond, Ind.
Garcia, who attended Kelly High School in Chicago, was a defender/midfielder on Morton College’s 2014 and 2015 women’s soccer teams. She was an all-Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference First Team selection in 2015.
“We are very proud of Maria,” Morton College assistant women’s soccer coach Lillianna Franco said. “Maria was one of those most talented and dedicated players we had in the 2015 season. She always worked hard at practice and encouraged her teammates to do the same. She is truly one of our success stories. We are excited to see her succeed on the field at Calumet College of St. Joseph and in her future career after graduating.”
Garcia decided to come to Morton College because it provided her the opportunity to further her education and play soccer. She enjoyed playing for head coach Juan Franco, who took over the program Garcia’s sophomore year.
“Playing for Coach Franco and Morton College was fantastic,” Garcia said. “They proved to me that I could continue my education along with playing soccer. I was motivated and committed to achieving great things.”
In light of the challenges Garcia faced on the soccer pitch, she stayed focused on the big prize – her education and being able to transfer to a four-year school.
With the help of assistant coach Lillianna Franco, Garcia decided to attend Calumet College of St. Joseph. Garcia liked the personal touch a small school could provide, plus the chances of finding employment after graduation.
Garcia’s advice to her fellow student-athletes at Morton College?
“Starting college was definitely scary at first especially since it was a new environment full of new people,” Garcia said. “It took me a while to adjust, but slowly I started to talk to people, communicating with my professors who helped me out through so much during and after classes.
“The significant difference was that students were so willing to learn, ask logical questions and pay attention as the teacher spoke. Not only were these students willing to continue their education but willing to succeed. You could see that all over their faces.”
Garcia says it’s important to give a 110 percent effort in academics and athletics.
“Most of the time, it is difficult to stay focused in school,” Garcia said. “Trust me - that is what is going to take you somewhere in the long run. Make sure you go to your classes, do your assignments and talk to your professors for help. Always stay on top of school because without good grades you can't play your sport.
“Giving 110 percent in your sport is also important because you just never know when a recruit is there watching you. I always gave it 110 percent even if we were losing because it shows the dedication you have for the sport and your willingness to improve. Never give up!
“Always have your head up high because anyone can do what they set their mind and heart to. Nothing comes easy, but hard work always pays off. Do what you have to do to get those excellent grades and you'll see how far you'll get. Trust me.”
The interview for this profile was done by an e-mail exchange between Lillianna Franco and Maria Garcia.