A sea of purple filled the entrance to Brownsville Veterans Memorial on Friday morning in support of Lizzie Garza.
The basketball star signed her intent to play collegiately for Waldorf University in Forest City, Iowa, with a large group of family members, all in purple Waldorf shirts, present to cheer her on. Coaches, teammates and school administrators were there to help Garza celebrate, too.
“It’s a blessing, and knowing that a lot of people don’t get this opportunity but I do, I’m taking it and it’s just amazing,” Garza said. “I wasn’t too sure about playing college basketball, but when senior year came closer I realized I really wanted to play, so I took the chance.”
The Warriors, led by coach Katie Schutjer, are glad she took that chance. The women’s basketball Twitter account said “our guard game just got a lot stronger” after Garza announced her commitment to the program May 27. Waldorf competes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Brownsville Veterans girls basketball coach Arnold Torres said it wasn’t surprising to see so many people on hand for Garza’s signing because the family always came out in droves to support her.
“They go to every single one of her games. Everything that she has accomplished belongs not only to her but to the whole family for the type of person they helped raise,” Torres said.
Garza got emotional as she addressed the crowd and thanked everyone for being by her side throughout her career. She said it was tough initially to get her parents on board with her moving to Iowa, but as she talked with the coaches throughout the recruitment process she felt Waldorf was the right place for her. She’ll be studying health promotion and exercise science with hopes of becoming a physical therapist in the future.
Garza caught the attention of opposing coaches quickly and was named the District 32-5A newcomer of the year as a freshman. This year, she was the district and All-Metro most valuable player, and she earned Rio Grande Valley Basketball Coaches Association all-valley and Texas Association of Basketball Coaches all-region recognition. She helped the Lady Chargers win three district titles and four bi-district titles during her stellar career.
Despite all the accomplishments, Torres praised Garza’s selflessness and attitude as her best attributes and key qualities that helped her earn the opportunity to play at the next level. Garza said she hopes she left a good mark on the program, and Torres said she definitely did. He called her instrumental in the program’s growth and said she showed the younger Lady Chargers what is possible when you go the extra mile.
“She’s never been about herself. It’s always been about the team and what she can do for the team, and I think that’s probably her biggest asset to the program,” Torres said. “She was a great leader for the kids. They learned a lot by watching her play. This year, my youngest daughter (Alexa Torres) got the opportunity to play with her, and one thing she always says is, ‘I want to be like Lizzie,’ and I think that speaks volumes. I’m really proud of her and happy for her, and I think (her signing) lets other kids know that those opportunities are available if you’re willing to put in the extra time, extra work and dedication.”