Big 12 Campus Correspondent
The term "student" in "student-athlete" is sometimes forgotten in college athletics, but junior shortstop Chelsea Garcia makes sure to keep academics at the top of her priority list.
Garcia attended Moore High School in Moore, Okla., where she finished with a 4.5 grade point average on a 5.0 grading scale with her honors and AP classes.
"I believe we are student-athletes because we are here to get our education and to better our future," Garcia said. "We are given this opportunity to get an education and some people don't get the chance. We should do our best."
Because of her hard work and determination, Garcia was named to the Academic All-Big 12 first team and was also first-team Academic All-District 6 her sophomore year.
"It isn't easy to juggle both school and softball," Garcia said. "I just sacrifice a lot of fun time in order to stay on top of my work. It is important for me to keep my grades up and I do my best and work hard to do so. In season, being on the road, I am always doing homework in the hotel and on the bus."
Garcia is currently working on her degree in secondary education with an emphasis in mathematics. Although her major is education, she feels like she is also getting a major in math.
"The Secondary Education-Math program is very rigorous," Garcia said. "The math courses can be very confusing and hard to understand. I chose education because I have always wanted to be a teacher like my mom. I want to teach kids and inspire them to do great things and be great people."
Garcia's mother passed away when she was only 10 years old, but during her time with her mother she expressed the importance of academics.
"I have always been dedicated to academics," she said. "My late mother set the foundation for making academics important and my father continued to stress that when I was in high school. He always set high expectations and said that my grades could take me places."
Garcia continues to remember and honor her mother almost every time she goes to bat in a softball game.
"I draw a cross above the plate, or in the opposite batter's box, as a tribute to my mother," Garcia said. "She passed away when I was 10 and I have made that cross while at bat ever since then. My mother taught me so much and I like to remember her and believe that she is watching over me in some way."
After her mother's passing, Garcia became even closer with her father and younger sister who are both still a big part of her softball career today.
"Losing my mother at a young age created closeness with my dad and younger sister, Sydney," Garcia said. "We have leaned on and supported each other so much in the past 10 years and I am so grateful for them. My dad makes it to all my games and Sydney comes when she doesn't have to work or have school."
Garcia was also recruited by Oklahoma City University and Tulsa, but chose OSU and has had a great experience so far.
"Playing college softball at OSU has been a blessing," Garcia said. "It isn't easy and can be tough on the body and mind, but it has taught me so much. I have met some amazing people and the girls will be my life-long friends."
Before this season, Garcia had started 118 consecutive games at shortstop, ranked 24th in school history with her .407 slugging percentage and tied for 18th in the OSU record books with eight home runs.
Because of her on-field experience, she has learned many leadership qualities that she continues to use this season.
"I have learned a lot from starting most of the games because I have learned what is expected out of me and what my role is on the field," Garcia said. "When it comes to leadership, I have always tried to lead by example. I do my best to speak out when I think it's right to do so. I hope to this year and next year step into a good leader role to help the younger girls and to benefit the program like the juniors and seniors have in the past."
This year, Garcia has started all 31 games. She has a .352 batting average, 20 runs, 31 hits, and 5 home runs. As a sophomore, Garcia was honored as part of the All-Big 12 second team and is hoping to improve even more this season.
"It is nice to get such an award like second team All-Big 12, but all I want to do as far as improvement is to go out on the field and do my best," Garcia said. "This year I want to help my team out in any way possible and keep a good attitude and stay focused."
Along with improving individualy, Garcia is hoping the team will keep their motto of being "blue-collar" strong.
"We understand that we are entitled to nothing and that our preparation and hard work will get us where we want to be," Garcia said. "We set our standards high and we expect to stick to them."
Although playing college softball is an experience in itself for Garcia, she says the best part about her experience at OSU is the people.
"I know that has nothing to do with physically playing softball, but I have made some great friends and they are there for me whenever I need them," Garcia said. "Also, all the opportunities and experiences I have had along the way have taught me a lot and I am thankful for that.