When the coronavirus pandemic shut down schools in mid-March, it abruptly ended the high school spring sports season.
Don Lugo High student-athlete Ellie Garcia was in the midst of another breakout season as a standout with the Conquistadores’ softball team, leading the squad to a 6-2 overall record and 1-0 record in the Mt. Baldy League when the season came to an end.
Garcia, a junior, said she was upset about the season shutting down.
“We had a really nice season going,” she said. “We were ranked pretty high in the CIF-Southern Section preseason polls. Our team was doing really well and we had beaten a few Division 1 teams. I thought we were really making a name for ourselves in the preseason and then it just stopped.”
The 6-foot junior was leading the team with three home runs and eight RBIs and was tied for the team lead with seven runs scored. She did not strikeout in 36 plate appearances.
Garcia had a 6-2 record as Don Lugo’s starting pitcher, striking out 94 hitters in 50 innings and held her opponents to a .151 batting average.
The stoppage to the season, however, did not stop her from committing to the University of Nevada-Reno, where she will attend in the fall of 2021.
She plans to sign with the university in November and will join the Wolfpack women’s softball team as a pitcher.
“I went on a visit there and really loved it. It’s a big sports school and a big college sports town since there are no pro sports teams there,” Garcia said. “I really loved the environment and I really loved the coaches and everything about the school.”
Before heading off to Reno, she still has unfinished business left at Don Lugo to attend to for her upcoming senior year.
She’s hoping to get one last shot to lead the Don Lugo girls’ volleyball team to a CIF-Southern Section championship.
It’s not been decided yet by the CIF-Southern Section if fall sports will be scheduled on time, get pushed back a few months, or be cancelled altogether.
Garcia led Don Lugo’s girls’ volleyball team in 2019 with 227 kills with a kill percentage of 50.7. She also served 33 aces, had 13 blocks and 86 digs as Don Lugo finished the season at 15-6 overall record, including a Mt. Baldy League-best 9-1 record.
Don Lugo made it as far as the second-round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 6 playoffs.
“I’m never going to play volleyball again once I go to college, so I really hope I get to play this season,” Garcia said.
She’s optimistic the volleyball season will begin.
“I think (CIF) will figure it out,” she said.
Family history at Don Lugo High
Garcia is the third member of her family to attend Don Lugo High as a student-athlete.
Her father, Luis, graduated in 1996.
He played football and went onto a collegiate career at Eastern Michigan University.
In 2014 and 2015, Mr. Garcia also served as Don Lugo’s head football coach, winning a Milk Can trophy on Sept. 26, 2014 after the Conquistadores’ defeated city-rival Chino, 35-7, which at the time was only the third time since 1991 that the Conquistadores won the annual game.
Ellie’s mother, Shannon Garcia, a 1998 graduate, pitched for the Don Lugo High softball team under head coach Ray Sheffield.
Luis and Shannon inspired their daughter to work hard in both the classroom and on the field with hopes of getting a college scholarship.
“From the time I was little, it was never like ‘you are going to pay for college.’ It was ‘you are going to get a scholarship somehow’. And that is how it was growing up. Never saving for college to play for college,” Garcia said. “It was kind of inspiring that my dad played college football and that he also coaches. Sports has already been around me and the competitive aspect of always wanting to win helped me with my journey and becoming a better athlete.”
She’s hoping she’ll inspire her younger brothers to take the same path, both academically and athletically.
Her brothers — Brandon, 13, and Andrew, 14 — already have the size of most high school varsity football players even before entering the ninth grade.
Brandon is 6-foot-3, 270 pounds, and Andrew is 6-foot-4 and near the same weight.
The brothers are currently home schooled. It’s not yet been decided where they will attend high school.
Brandon is a member of the IE Ducks football team.
Andrew is not currently playing football but is spending the next year training before entering high school.
Ellie, a 3.8 grade-point average student, is spending her time training too, should the high school sports season take place.
“I got a weight set in my back yard, so I have been lifting every other day. Slowly getting back to playing softball.”
A video story on Ellie Garcia's story by Champion multi-media journalist Michael Griego, click on the link here: