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Garcia’s gutsy play earns him new coach’s respect
by Aaron Retherford
Jan 30, 2012 | 1036 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune file photo - Sparks senior and three-year starter Erik Garcia is one of the Railroaders' leading scorers and rebounders. He's also earned his coach's respect by doing all the little things.
Tribune file photo - Sparks senior and three-year starter Erik Garcia is one of the Railroaders' leading scorers and rebounders. He's also earned his coach's respect by doing all the little things.
Sparks senior Erik Garcia might not be the fastest or the tallest player on the basketball court. He might not pour in 20 points a night, although he has that capability.

Garcia is one of the Railroaders‘ leading scorers and is coming off back-to-back 15-point performances. His season-high is 19 points against Rite of Passage.

Still, it’s not his scoring that is his most valued talent since fellow seniors Brian Morgan, Xavier Rodriguez and DJ Devine all have the talent to score in double figures on any given night.

So what makes Garcia so valuable to the Maroon and Gold on a team comprised of more than half seniors? It’s the little things Garcia does for the greater good of the team.

“He’s one of those kids who’s not very vocal, but leads by example,” Sparks boys basketball coach Dan Schreiber said. “His style of play dictates the tone of the game. The games he comes, and really takes charges and rebounds, you can kind of see everyone else fall into place and follow suit. It’s kind of a key element. It’s all the little tiny things that make him a great basketball player.

“He’s been great to coach. He’s one of those coach’s players. If you ask him to do something, he does it. For example, at Truckee we told him to take a charge and I think he took four. It’s one of those things he‘s not afraid to go out there and sacrifice.”

Garcia’s varsity career couldn’t have started off much better, getting to hoist a 3A state championship trophy his sophomore season even though the season was a challenge personally.

“Sophomore year was difficult for me because I started every game, so I was kind of like the rookie on the team,” Garcia said. “But Angel (Guillen) was a good leader, so he kind of helped me to become what I am now. Hopefully, we can win state again this year.

“The season is going pretty good. I wasn’t expecting to lose in league at all, so hopefully we get Incline back tomorrow. It’s been good. We’re playing as a team. I’m just excited for what’s going to happen in basketball. Hopefully we’re going to take it again.”

It’s been a slightly strange three years. Despite the team’s success, Garcia has played for three different head coaches.

Last year wasn’t much of a change as Mike Jones, a co-head coach from the state championship season, took over for Dick Lee. But adjusting to his third coach in three years has been a little different. Schreiber brought in a new system and based on the team’s 14-5 record, the players have bought into the new system.

“This year it’s a whole new coach and system. But it seems like he knows what he’s doing, so it’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be,” Garcia said. “He’s doing a good job.”

It goes both ways though. Players like Garcia have helped Schreiber adjust to a new team, which is part of the reason Garcia is one of the team’s captains along with Morgan and Rodriguez.

“His style of play is a lot like my philosophy. It’s pretty ground and pound. That’s his aggressive style of play, so that really helps,” Schreiber said. “We’ve talked a lot of him being an extension of the coach on the floor. We communicate things from the bench on the floor when he’s playing, so that’s helped a lot. There are certain kids who can communicate well on the floor or on the field through their actions. They kind of create the tempo for their own teammates as well.”

A 3.5 grade-point average student, Garcia is hoping for a lot more than success on the court this winter.

“I’m hoping we all keep up the good grades and become something, the seniors especially,” the all-league forward said. “We have seven seniors. Hopefully, we can learn something from basketball and become better men. That’s what coach Schreiber wants, too. He always talks about how we’re going to be the future.”

Garcia was also a second team wide receiver for football last fall and an honorable mention punter.

He ran track last spring, but has played baseball in the past, so he hasn’t made a decision on what spring sport he wants to finish his high school career.

Garcia has thoroughly enjoyed his time at Sparks High as a member of the Maroon and Gold.

“I’ve enjoyed it. Everybody is closer. There aren’t a bunch of kids,” he said. “Our football team wasn’t as good, but we still all got really close. We’re the type of team that would never give up. Even though we weren’t the best, we would always do the best that we can. These are the friends that I’ll probably have forever.”
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