Often a wrestler can find himself drowning in outside sources. Voices pulling from opposite direction. All the weight of the outside world can cripple the best athletes. But not for senior Ethan Garcia. We caught up with Garcia prior to the start of the season and discussed not only his iron clad will, but he laser like focus going into his last year as a Panther.
How did you prepare for this season?
After my heartbreaking lost at regionals, I knew I only had one shot left to get to the state tournament. I concluded that I had the capability and mindset to do it. Looking back at the summer between my sophomore and junior year, I reflected on what I did that help and what I need to do more of. I needed to attend more national level tournaments and more well named wrestling camps. I saw Jeff Jordan's State Champ Camp on David Taylor's documentary. And I figured if he attended it and was a state champ then I should be able to do the same thing. I heard about the Jenison clinic with wrestlers from U of M because my mom brought home a letter about it saying some of Michigan's best wrestlers will be there, I knew I had to go learn from some of the best in the nation.
What was Jeff Jordan Camp like?
My first day of Jeff Jordan camp was actually on a Sunday night at the end of July, and arriving on the property I could tell Jeff took his camp very seriously since the barn we wrestle in took up about 75 percent of the property. Checking in for camp, the office wasn't an office, it was his kitchen. And he had the gear that he sells to his wrestlers hanging up all over the walls and partly the ceiling. After checking in and payment was made, the counselors would hand you a water bottle with a Jordan Trained Logo on it, they would sign your name on the side. The counselors were assistant coaches and wrestlers from Saint Paris Graham High School, One of the best wrestling schools in the country. Walking into the barn I was one of the first campers to show up, so any spot I wanted I pretty much got. I chose a couple meters away from the small rack of bleachers near the door. Looking around the room I was already starting to feel like a better wrestler, the vibe of the room was strong and you could feel it look at the mats that said Team Jordan in big red letters. The first night was a 2 hour live session, in which most kids nearly died from being out of condition, I wasn't the best conditioned and trained guy in the room, but I wasn't willing to let these National Champs, All-Americans, and State champs get the best of me. The next 4 days were a mile run at 7 in the morning, a 2 hour technique session after the run and after lunch, then a 2 hour live session after dinner. On the last day the parents got to watch our last technique session, where we learned my favorite moves, pinning moves. I could tell my Mom and Dad were proud of me when they came to get me on the last day, not that I made it through the camp, but that I made it through the camp by myself. No teammates, no coaches. Just me and my will.
Why did you decide on Jeff Jordan?
I decided Jeff Jordan because of all the great wrestlers that have went to that camp and came out a much better wrestler. One in fact making the Olympic Team this year. The camp really helped with my transition from a regional qualifier level to a state qualifier level. Jeff really focused on tuning the little things that make a big difference in a match, and I knew that's what I really needed to make it to that next level.
What are some of the hurdles you have to face?
This year has been a real life changer for me. Not just on the mat but off it. Back in April, I lost my great grandmother on my mom's side, and my mom took a long time to recover from that. Shortly after my junior year was finished, my dog had to be put down cause she was struggling to stay alive on 3 legs, late at night she couldn't make it to the water bowl because she kept slipping and falling over. Eventually she had to live full time in my parents’ bedroom…. I never really paid attention to it; I just blocked out the noise and stayed away from it buy leaving for wrestling and going to work out. Eventually my mom asked if I was alright, I just smiled and said "I'm fine" I didn't feel I was supposed to show emotion since that's what my dad said, is to ignore this problem(s)... School wise, I signed up for some hard classes, not really knowing what I was getting into. The school year started off rough, with Pre-Calculus, AP Psychology, and AP language being my hardest classes. I'm not the smartest kid in the classroom when it comes to paperwork and tests, but I do learn stuff. It's just that teachers don't really see that, and don't care much about it.
What are your goals this season?
I've been training and wrestling all year to obtain one goal, state qualifier. But goals have steps, and I'll take it one step at a time. Win 30 matches, Win the OK conference, and go to state. And also to live my senior to the best I can while still wrestling my last year in high school.
What do you plan to do after high school?
After high school I have thought of 2 options, to wrestle in college or join the Marines, and if I wrestle in college, I plan to wrestle at Adrian College. Cause college wrestling sounds so much more of an experience need to be felt.
Who is your wrestling hero?
I idolized David Taylor to show that. He was a great example of wanting to be not just dominate, but to be a great wrestler. To go out on the mat, expecting to win, and to score points and put on a show for everyone that came to watch. Watching him I would think to myself "That's how I want to wrestle, that's what I want to do."