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Girls Scholar-Athlete of the month: Midlothian’s Gabriella Garcia
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Girls Scholar-Athlete of the month: Midlothian’s Gabriella Garcia

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School: Midlothian

Year: Senior

GPA: 5.02

Athletic accomplishments: Garcia won the Class 5 state cross country title in November in 18:55 as well as the Region 5C championship. She’s a two-time first-team All-Metro pick in cross country. Garcia was a state runner-up in cross country as a sophomore and was third as a junior.

Academic accomplishments: Student of the year in 2019-20; ranks third in her class; member of the National Honor Society and numerous clubs and organizations; received the Harvard Book Award, which is given to “outstanding students in the next-to-graduating high school class who display excellence in scholarship and high character, combined with achievement in other fields.”

College: She is headed to UNC Charlotte, where she will run cross country and track.

Potential major: “I want to major in either kinesiology or exercise science. I’ve changed my mind a little bit, but my plan right now is to either become a physical therapist or an occupational therapist.”

Inspired by her mom: Garcia wants to work with oncology patients. Her mother, Kathleen, died from multiple myeloma in November of 2020. “I’ll never understand why things happen, but I feel like if I can take something out of my experiences. … There were just a lot of people who helped my mom during her fight and battle. It kind of made me want to be that support and give that encouragement to other people in that situation. I do like working with kids and the elderly, too, but I just feel like that population of people, that could be really helpful for them.”

How she prepares for meets: “Coach [Stan Morgan] always gives us workouts, so physically we’re preparing our bodies. I feel like the mental part is a really big part when it comes to running. For me, I need to continue to improve on this … I think just really kind of believing in yourself and having that confidence. Sometimes … I’m not as confident in myself. When you are more confident going into a race it can help a lot. Just being positive and realizing all the hard work you’ve been putting in has prepared you for that moment.”

Important advice for a teammate: “To just go out there and do your best and not put pressure on yourself. I think I still need to work on that. ... We do this sport because we love it and sometimes the nerves can get the best of us. If you go out there and do your best, that’s all you can expect of yourself. The other one would be just make sure you’re fueling enough.”

Whom she admires: “My biggest role model is my mom. … All my friends, my teammates, I admire them as well. All the love and support they’ve shown me, it’s just really humbling. Just the pure kindness they all have shown me. And [Coach Morgan], too. There’s a lot of people I admire.”

Describes herself as: Hardworking, funny, caring, committed, dedicated. She was shy and “very much an introvert” as a freshman but said her teammates have “kind of pulled the extrovert out of me.”

Best piece of advice she’s received: “To do what makes you happy. Also, just find balance. For me, I can just maybe take things to the extreme. … A phrase [my mom] used to always say was enjoy the moment. That’s kind of a phrase I live by. Throughout this year I’ve learned time is so precious — kind of just to be really truly present and to cherish all the memories with people you’re close with because life changes really fast.”

Favorite food: “I really like almond butter.”

Secret talent: “I’m good at puzzles.”

Hobbies: “I like to cook and bake. I like to spend time with my friends and family. I also like helping animals.”

The experience of winning a state title: “It was just insane the amount of cheering I heard throughout the whole race. It wasn’t just my team and the parents on my team, which was amazing, but it was also other people. You could hear the … people as [the race] was building. It’s like something you picture in your head when you cross the finish line, but it actually came true. It was just amazing experience because it was a day before a year since my mom’s passing. I know she gave me a lot of strength during that race. I can just picture her yelling so loud like she used to. There were a lot of emotions during that race, but everything fell into place where it needed to be. I’m really honored and just so grateful for my team. They are my second family.”

— Tim Pearrell

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