For 23-year old Alex Garcia, wrestling is a lifestyle, not just a sport. Aside from wrestling himself, Alex also coaches and referees all year long. It all started at a young age for Alex, who loved watching Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle succeed at the international level. Once Alex reached high school where wrestling first became an option, there was no turning back. Alex explained, “When I got to high school I joined the wrestling team and fell in love with it. I didn’t have instant success but I had coaches who never gave up on me and kept me going until it all started to click.”
Growing up in Flint, Alex became a wrestling success story, winning two state championships in Freestyle wrestling along with two state championships in Greco-Roman wrestling. Alex still relies heavily on the words he received from his high school wrestling coach, Coach Chaney, during one of his last tournaments before college. Coach Chaney told Alex, “You need to wrestle to win instead of wrestling not to lose.” Alex claimed this statement from his high school coach taught him he cannot coast on leads and get comfortable, which is a motto he keeps with him to this day.
The skills Alex possessed as a wrestler in high school allowed him to compete at the collegiate level at Saginaw Valley State University, where he also earned his Bachelors in criminal justice. During his time at SVSU, Alex became a 3-time National Qualifier. After his collegiate career, Alex went on to coach the SVSU wrestling team where he has already coached 4 National Qualifiers in addition to an All-American. “I just have fun wrestling. I respect anyone who wrestles because I understand the hard work and the sacrifices this sport demands,” Alex said as he described his love for the sport. “As a coach, I feel my job is to create champion men and women, not just champion wrestlers.”
It is with his dedication to wrestling that has helped Alex become the 2014 Meijer State Games of Michigan Male Athlete of the Year. When asked about how he first got involved in the State Games, Alex responded by explaining that after high school and college it is extremely difficult to find open tournaments, but the State Games provides that opportunity for wrestlers of all ages. In the upcoming Winter Games, Alex hopes to win gold in all 3 styles of wrestling for his division. Especially when it comes to wrestling, Alex acknowledges the importance of a healthy living in his sport. “Wrestling is unique because you compete in weight classes,” Alex explained, “Eating right and staying in shape is key, especially for tournaments. You’re in a gym all day so it’s important to stay hydrated and not too full.” Alex always has chocolate milk handy for after weigh-ins and beef jerky to snack on, along with plenty of water and fruit.
Alex currently resides in Mt. Morris where he is in the process of starting his law enforcement career following his recent graduation from the LERTA Police Academy. During the little free time Alex does have, he enjoys playing rugby along with a little guitar now and then. Even with his high school and college years behind him, Alex still finds ways to stay competitive in wrestling while giving back to the sport he loves. Between staying active in his sport, giving back to the community, and chasing his dreams of a law enforcement career, Alex definitely possesses the qualities worthy of being named the Meijer State Games of Michigan Male Athlete of the Year.
The Meijer State Games of Michigan is a multi-sport, Olympic-style event(s) that welcome athletes regardless of age or ability level. The Games embody the values of participation, sportsmanship and healthy living.