Glenwood Springs senior Angel Garcia reunites with basketball coach for college
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
The world has a funny way of working.
After losing former Glenwood Springs boys basketball head coach Cory Hitchcock to the collegiate level before his senior season, Demon guard Angel Garcia is reuniting with his former coach as the four-year starter signed his National Letter of Intent on Wednesday to play for Hitchcock at the University of Southwest, where Hitchcock was just named the new men’s coach after coaching the women’s program last season.
“It’s honestly a dream come true,” said Garcia after his signing ceremony inside Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium at Glenwood Springs High School. “I’ve always wanted to play college basketball, and to be able to do this with the coach who sparked it … it’s just really hard to put into words. I’m just so excited.”
Garcia grew up in New Castle but decided to come to Glenwood Springs High School and play for Hitchcock after his eighth-grade year. That kicked off a four-year stretch — three with Hitchcock — in which Garcia started consistently and averaged 9.3 points per game, 2.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game for the Demons, helping Glenwood win three straight Class 4A Western Slope League championships, while also hosting two second-round state playoff games.
“I feel very blessed to have come here to Glenwood and met coach Cory and the staff that’s been here,” Garcia said. “Looking back, it was good decision by me and my family.”
Now, Garcia moves onto the next level where he’ll play for the Mustangs under Hitchcock, giving him a familiar face and a familiar system to play in. The Glenwood product will redshirt his first season in Hobbs, New Mexico, to bulk up for the collegiate level, but it will be good for the senior to reunite with his former high school coach, which is a rare thing to do in sports. Hitchcock added that it’s important for Garcia to come in and put on some weight and adjust to the pace and physicality of the collegiate game.
Despite the redshirt season forthcoming, the pairing came together quickly, according to Garcia.
“As soon as he took the job (late last week) he gave me a call and offered me a spot,” Garcia said. “I didn’t even have to think twice; I was just so happy. We’ve been in touch consistently since he left, so I wasn’t really surprised he got the men’s job. I’m just so happy I got this chance to play for him again.”
Garcia had a few walk-on chances with Colorado Mesa University and Western State University, which would have kept him local, but the chance to get a scholarship and reunite with Hitchcock was just far too good to pass up.
“When I took the job to coach the women’s team here at USW, I never expected to have the opportunity to coach Angel again,” Hitchcock said. “It’s pretty awesome. We have a great relationship. He was pretty under-recruited, so when I found out I got the men’s job the first call I made was to him. He’s going to be a great fit for us; he’s going to shoot the heck out of it.”
The shy senior has a big task ahead of him at the collegiate level, but he said he trusts the time and effort he’s put into the game outside of practice and believes he’ll be ready for the next level when his time comes.
“I just have to trust the process along the way,” Garcia said. “I can’t get too down on myself if things don’t go my way right away. I believe in myself and the work that I put in, so I just have to be patient and trust that things will get better if I just keep working.”
Off the floor, Garcia will study business. Garcia’s father owns his own business in the valley and hopes to one day own his own business as well. He added that he’ll head to Hobbs quickly after graduation to get a jump on his playing career.
The long drives to Denver to play competitive club softball and fine-tune her skills during the offseason are paying off for Glenwood Springs High School senior Kiera Larson.