Wheeler High School senior Riley Garcia has a long life ahead of her but feels good that she has a few things figured out already.
Garcia is preparing to graduate in May and plans to attend St. Ambrose University in Iowa in the fall, doing the thing she loves the most: playing soccer.
Garcia feels like soccer is in her blood, as her father and uncle both played. She started at age 3, but she didn’t get what she was hoping for right away.
“In one of my first games, I got the ball stolen from me,” Garcia said.“I started crying and didn't want to play anymore.”
But a few years later she decided to give it another try and it stuck that time. Her commitment lead to an illustrious sports career at Wheeler. She was a 4-year varsity starter and a captain for three of them. She also was able to make all-state her final years on the team. Garcia had other hobbies, like playing the guitar and gymnastics. When it came down to a choice, though, soccer always won. The memories are many, but a few are engrained.
“It was the first time I went to the state title game, and I was so ecstatic,” Garcia said.“When we first stepped on the field and looked at all of the seats, I was in awe. Every single minute of that game was some of the most exciting soccer I have ever been part of.”
Garcia knew she had to play soccer in college the moment her high school career wound down
“Right after our last game ended, it hit me I will never get to play this game again,” Garcia said.
She decided then to play after high school, too.
Garcia is on pace to graduate with a 4.1 GPA, a commitment that has landed her in the National Honor Society. But she had other motivations.
“I always wanted to do well, but I knew if that didn’t happen, I wouldn't play soccer,” Garcia said. “I wanted to succeed no matter what so I always found time to do my homework.”
When Garcia heads to St. Ambrose University in the fall, she plans to join the nursing program. Her mom, dad, and brother are all nurses. She has even thought of life after college and wants to become an emergency room nurse.
“I am not the kind of person who could do a 9 to 5,” Garcia said. “I want a job where no day is the same. I want something where I can stay busy and of course help people.”