Rachel Garcia is no stranger to winning awards. This year alone, the former Little Leaguer® has received various honors after leading UCLA to victory in the Women’s College World Series. Just one week after their victory, Ms. Garcia accepted yet another award as she was presented with the 2019 Honda Cup and named the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year.
Honda, who has been a proud partner of Little League® Baseball and Softball for 20 years, along with the Collegiate Women Sports Awards Board of Directors, presents the cup to the top NCAA Division I female athlete for demonstrating excellence in sport, academics and community involvement. The annual award ceremony is broadcast live on national television, honoring the best of the best in women’s collegiate athletics.
“To be named alongside the best female collegiate athletes was amazing, humbling, and such an honor,” said Ms. Garcia. “I will forever be grateful and proud of this accomplishment and that I have represented UCLA the very best I could as a student athlete.”
Ms. Garcia has spent her collegiate career playing for the UCLA Bruins and was named to the USA Softball Women’s National Team. She has excelled both in the circle and at the plate, striking out 315 batters in 205 innings while maintaining a .339 batting average. However, before Ms. Garcia was the award-winning athlete she is today, she got her start in California District 51 Little League.
“Little League reminds me to never forget where I started and has given me fond memories of friendships,” said Ms. Garcia. “I learned the basics of the game, which has helped shape my high school and collegiate careers, and now with Team USA.”
While competing with Team USA, Ms. Garcia was able to bring home the Gold in the World Championship, and even qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with the team. She is thankful to the sport for helping her to become the person that she is.
“Softball has given me so much to be grateful for,” explained Ms. Garcia. “It has taught me to work hard to achieve my dreams and that nothing will stand in the way if I really want it.”
In addition to her Honda Cup achievement, Ms. Garcia was nominated for a 2019 ESPY for Best College Athlete and was crowned the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year for the second year in a row, becoming only the fourth athlete to claim multiple and back-to-back Player of the Year honors. In 2015, Ms. Garcia was also named the Softball Gatorade Player of the Year as a High School senior, becoming one of more than 30 Little League graduates to earn Gatorade Players of the Year honors for their state that year.
Ms. Garcia is an inspiration to all young players and shows that hard work and determination can help a person do anything they set their mind to. She serves as a reminder that as long as you love what you’re doing, anything is possible.
“The advice I would give to Little Leaguers just starting to play softball would be to not take everything too seriously, and to enjoy it,” said Ms. Garcia. “Learn to love the game as I have and always remember to have fun.”