A senior on the U of L field hockey team, Elisa Garcia continues to play the sport that she has loved since she started back at home in Santiago, Chile. Evidently, the same place that inspired her current teammates in giving her the nickname “Chile.”
Although before they even had the chance of meeting her, Garcia had faced many ups and downs through her journey from Chile to playing Division I field hockey in the United States.
Garcia was the youngest in a fairly big family where her passion for field hockey was sparked when she was only seven years old watching her older sister Josafina play the sport. She eventually went on and joined the same Old Girls Club team where, in high school, she was named the best player in 2009 and 2011.
While faced with the difficult decision on where she would continue her field hockey career after college, one of her close friends Mariajose Rodriguez had decided to go play at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the U.S. a year before Garcia was planning to graduate. After talking with Rodriguez and doing some research on her own, Garcia felt the opportunity to play in the U.S. was a challenge she was willing and ready to face.
A fair amount of offers came her way, but her feelings were still wavering over the idea of leaving a country she has loved so dearly. It wasn’t until current U of L field hockey assistant coach Lucas Piccioli came to visit her during a tournament in Argentina, when she finally had her heart set for Louisville.
“He came to visit me in Argentina, (I had a tournament over there) and that’s where I finally met him. And I knew he would be an awesome coach. He showed me a couple pictures of campus, our locker room, and our fields… and after he told me I was going to get the scholarship, I was in.”
So in 2012 Garcia had packed her bags and embarked on her journey to the states, leaving behind the most important part of her life; her family.
“That transition was really hard for me, being far away from my family. Technology not always was there with me. And just not having the people that understand me the most… But when I go home, I see that everyone is still there supporting me– it’s the best feeling ever,” says Garcia.
She holds an unbreakable bond with those who are still close to her back in Chile while still maintaining the friendships she’s made on the team here in Louisville. Now being a senior on the team, she understands her role and the importance of being one of the only four seniors on the team.
“Being seniors you show everyone how things are done. You have the culture of the team and of program with you for years now, so you know everything and now you get to show the rest of them how things are done.”
Garcia is currently tied for third on the team with goals, assists, and steals, as well as converting two out of her three penalty strokes this year. She looks to continue to push her team throughout the remainder of the season leading up to ACC championship play in November.
Photo by Wade Morgen / The Louisville Cardinal