Fernando Garcia Goes From Standout Player to Standout Coach
Hispanic Heritage Month is Sept. 15 – Oct. 15 and USTA Iowa is highlighting Fernando Garcia
Originally from Michoacan, Mexico, Fernando Garcia played tennis at an early age, along with other sports such as soccer and track and field. However, he didn’t pick up a racquet again until he was a freshman in high school. He maintained his skills, as he was able to play Division II tennis at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
“During my first year at Stillman College, the men's team won the conference championship,” he recalled. “My second year, I was awarded with Singles All-Conference and Doubles All-Conference Player awards.”
He then transferred to the University of Alabama where he was a non-athlete studying Business Management. But he never stopped coaching tennis.
“I have coached tennis in every place that I have lived in, including Las Vegas, New Mexico, Texas, Alabama, Michigan and now Iowa, a total of 14 years coaching,” he said.
Currently Garcia owns the Vega Sports Academy in Cedar Rapids and is Co-Founder of the Forever Strong Children’s Foundation. He said it’s a way to give back to the community, just as he was helped as a child growing up in Las Vegas facing tough times.
“My goal is to help those kids that thought the same way I did growing up, that feel there is no hope because of their background,” he said. “We struggled for many years and slept on the floor and barely saw my mom as she worked two jobs. I started hanging out with the wrong people. I almost started the process of joining a gang until my brother and I joined a foundation in Las Vegas who kept us off the streets and involved us in tennis.”
He hopes to provide a positive environment for the youth, but also mentorship so they know that anything is possible if they put their minds to it with the right example, such as his own personal story.
“Going from a near gang member, to a collegiate athlete, to a business owner means a lot because of my background and challenges. This will prove to the next generation that it can be done.”
Garcia is currently working on hosting their first non-sanctioned tennis tournament in Cedar Rapids to fundraise for the Foundation, and hoping to grow from there.
For more on the Foundation, or how to get involved, click on the website at: https://www.foreverstrongcf.org/