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By Jackson Groves. January 5, 2015 - 8:41 pm
In his first conference game for Hawaii Pacific University Men’s Soccer Team, Brais Garcia scored three goals in the first half, which would prove to be a sign of things to come.
Garcia is originally from Madrid, Spain and transferred from Iona College, New York, setting the PacWest Conference alight with 21 goals in two seasons. He is not the fastest player and doesn’t rate himself as an exceptional finisher, but it was his knowledge of the game that helped him find the net on many occasions.
By the time 22-year-old Garcia played his last game for HPU – a 2-0 loss against the University of Hawaii at Hilo on Nov. 8 – he had become one of the most decorated players in HPU men’s soccer history.
“I feel like I am a very complete player and I can adapt very well to any scenario. Also I believe I am a very smart player who can make the best out of any situation,” said Garcia who is tied for equal 5th in HPU single season goals for his 11 goal haul of 2013.
Assistant Coach, Sergi Navarro witnessed Garcia’s journey from the first moment at HPU. “Against Dixie State in his first season, he scored a hat-trick in the first half of the game. He basically scored every shot he took,” said Navarro.
Garcia was awarded second team All-PacWest in 2013 and first team All-PacWest in 2014. Garcia was also named to the All-Region second team in 2013 and 2014. These awards are a great achievement, yet Garcia ranks being placed on the Capital One Academic All-District team as the best honor he received.
“Capital One Academic All-District team is an award that not only recognizes how you do on the field but also how you are doing with school,” said Garcia who currently holds a 3.61 GPA in International Business.
Traveling is the one feature of his life that he appreciates the most. “I have family all over the world, and I have always wanted to start a business where I could travel and deal with people from different cultures,” said Garcia.
Garcia left his family and friends in Madrid as a 19-year-old after being approached to play for Iona College. “I was very excited to see what I was going to find in terms of soccer. I am very happy with the experiences,” said Garcia.
Joining a new team can be an unnerving experience, especially when you are more than 12,000 miles from home. Former HPU teammate, Erik Kemsies said,
“To come into a new place, a new team and to begin so strongly and be able to maintain such a high level over such a long period shows what sort of character Brais has.”
When a player with the presence of Garcia leaves the team, there is a void that needs to be filled. “Good players are always hard to replace,” said Navarro. “In the seven years that I have been part of college soccer in the United States, I have learned that there are always more good players.”
Garcia will continue to play in the local men’s league for fun with a group of friends. “It’s going to be really hard to replace soccer with something that will fulfil me,” said Garcia. “Soccer is a great part of who I am now, because just like any other sport and especially team sports, it teaches you values that are useful in every day of your life.”
“My grandmother thought I was never going to come back,” said Garcia, who left home full of hopes and dreams as a 19-year old. Despite strong support from his parent’s who could see the benefits for Garcia’s future, his 74-year-old grandmother saw differently.
After a game in Madrid, an agent approached Garcia and spoke to him about the possibility of playing soccer and studying at a college in New York. Garcia jumped at the opportunity for a fresh start and the adventure of a lifetime.
“I didn’t want to get stuck in the same place, with the same people, I wanted to see something else,” said Garcia.
Having traveled to the United States before, Garcia wasn’t nervous to make such a life-changing decision. “I spoke with some guys that were studying in America too and they only told me good things, so I was excited about it,” said Garcia.
After finally traveling home to visit his family for Christmas one year ago, his grandmother was excited to be wrong. “I got back from Hawaii and the entire family went to have lunch in my uncle’s place,” said Garcia. “She was very excited and happy to have me with her again.”