Chargers’ Garza signs with Park

Michael Garza is a standout long jumper for Brownsville Veterans Memorial who became a multi-event track & field athlete to enhance his chances of being signed to compete in college.

It’s a strategy that worked quite well.

At the urging of his coach, Garza became a more versatile athlete as an underclassman by also running legs on his school’s relay teams in addition to long-jumping.

As a result, the Brownsville Veterans senior has signed an athletic scholarship to compete next school year for Park University, an NAIA school in Gilbert, Ariz.

Track coach Michael Moore, who just completed his fifth year of guiding the Chargers, gave Garza some valuable advice a couple of seasons ago.

“We had talked about going to the next level and what he was looking for, and I said, ‘You have to understand that no colleges are going to be looking for just pure jumpers, they’re going to be looking for athletes who are willing to do whatever they need,’” Moore said. “Michael really embraced that and started competing as a runner, too. He really blossomed (as a member of our 400- and 800-meter relays). It was very good to see.

“I could always count on him to help us out (as a runner),” Moore added. “When I needed him to run a leg on a relay, he would. We won District (32-5A) team titles when he was a sophomore and a junior, and we made it to regionals. Many times he would win the long jump, too. Of course, it’s a total team effort (when you capture a district team title). Having Michael there to help us out (in multiple ways) has been a big plus.

“Actually, I thought we were in pretty good shape to do it again this year, but unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance (because the threat of the COVID-19 coronavirus cut short the school year and halted the track season prior to the district meet).”

Still, Garza has come out of his senior year with a track scholarship as he realized his goal of competing at the next level.

His personal best in the long jump is 22 feet. Previously, he also played football for the Chargers, but he didn’t play as a senior so he could concentrate on track.

“It feels good (to sign),” Garza said. “I’m excited. I’m blessed that I got the opportunity. I’ve worked hard and I got to where I wanted to be, so I’m grateful.

“I’m expecting there will be a lot more competition (in college),” he added. “I know it’s going to be tough, but I’m ready for it.”

Garza said he plans to pursue a criminal justice degree in college.

“I just want to say thank you to all my coaches, and also my mom (Rosie Garza), because she’s always been there for me,” he said.

Moore said he believes Garza will do well as a college athlete.

“Michael has always been a pretty decent long jumper, even since he was a freshman, and he really took to listening to Coach (Pope) Martinez, his jump coach, and really bought in (to what we’ve been telling him),” Moore said. “He put in the time to better himself. He really started to step up last year when he was a junior. He began to take the running part of his training very seriously. I just wish our season would have finished out, because I think he was on track to do very well (as a runner, too).

“I’m super happy for him,” Moore added. “We already had another one (Max Carmona) sign (from our track program) a couple of years ago, so to see Michael get the chance to run at the next level is really nice. It’s great to see them go on, and extend their athletic careers and get their college educations paid for. I think it’s important for our (other) athletes to see that.

“Michael has set a very good example for the other guys as far as work ethic. I believe he will do well (in college). These guys (such as Garza and Carmona) are complete student-athletes.”