For the past seven years, freshman Karley Garcia has been defying social norms by competing in the male dominated , and uncommon, sport hockey.
Garcia was first introduced to the sport at the age of seven, and has loved playing the sport ever since.
“My cousins from San Jose they played,” Garcia said. “Whenever they came down we would always play and I decided to play on the ice and I have loved it ever since.”
Garcia competes for the Golden State Eagles 14 AA North team. They are the top performing tier program in the state. There are seven teams that make up the Golden State Eagle program, and Garcia is one of the only four female athletes in the entire organization.
Especially in hockey, Garcia is faced with a challenge that is uncommon to most athletes. Because girls hockey is not a partcularly popular sport, Garcia has to play on an all boys team. All of her competition is boys.
“It’s pretty hard because the guys develop a lot faster and so they are a lot stronger,” Garcia said. “So I just have to work hard every single day because it is hard to prove myself.”
This is not the first time that Garcia has been faced with this type of challenge. At age seven, Garcia played on a boys baseball team. While the experience of playing with boys in baseball has assisted Garcia, she feels that hockey poses an even bigger challenge because of how important strength is.
“It was a little different playing against boys then,” Garcia said. “It wasn’t as competitive as hockey is now. But it was still hard because the guys were stronger and had more experience.”
Garcia has traveled as far as Minnesota, Chicago, Florida, and Canada in order to compete in hockey at a highest level. With aspirations of competing in hockey in college, Garcia frequently participates in recruiting tournaments in an effort to gain more exposure and hopefully recieve some collegiate offers.
“I am hoping to take my game all the way to a college level,” Garcia said. “Our team travels a lot in order to play in showcases and on tournament teams.”
From hockey, Garcia has been able to take away valuable life lessons.
“Hockey has taught me to work hard in everything I do,” Garcia said. “Especially when you may not be as strong or tough as others, it just means you have to work that much harder.
Along with hockey Garcia also plays for a local competitive soccer team, Placer United. Both teams have a high commitment level and Garcia sometimes finds it hard to balance her time. Given she loves both participating in and playing both sports. However, while most people may see this as a challenge to big to overcome, Garcia has risen to the occasion.
“It’s really hard because I play soccer and hockey at a high level,” Garcia said. “Practicing four times a week for soccer and three times a week for hockey it’s hard to not miss both of them, and even when I make both of them, It’s hard to go 100 percent because of how tired I am from the other event.”