Bloomington's Garcia approaches win No. 600
March 7, 2012 at 11 p.m.
Updated March 7, 2012 at 9:08 p.m.
BLOOMINGTON - The faces and locations have changed, but the passion remains the same.
Hodie Garcia has been teaching Spanish and coaching baseball for 36 years, and not once during that time has he missed a day.
"I love it. I really do," Garcia says. "That's what I wanted. I wanted to be able to coach baseball and to teach. I love to do both. To me, 36 is nothing really because I can't wait to get to work the next day. I love what I do, and I do what I love."
The 62-year-old Garcia is interacting with his players during practice on a windy afternoon at the Bloomington baseball field.
He is in the fourth season of his second stint at the school and approaches each day like he did when he graduated from Lubbock Christian University, where he played catcher, and began his coaching and teaching career at Odessa Ector.
"I think the one word that describes that is consistency," says Garcia, who has been a head coach for 34 seasons. "I've been consistent all my career. I don't deviate from the program. If there's a rule that's put in place, I enforce the rule. I don't just put it in place because it looks good.
"Kids have to follow rules. I'm going to win doing it right, and I'm going to lose doing it right. There's no in between. It's either do it right or you can't stay in the program."
Garcia coached at Ector, Lubbock Estacado, Victoria Stroman, Del Rio, Harlingen South. Bloomington, Calhoun, his alma mater, and Rio Grande City. He spent three years away from coaching before returning to Bloomington.
His teams made four trips to the state tournament, two at Estacado and two at Stroman. He led the Raiders to the 1985 Class 5A state championship.
Garcia will take Bloomington into this weekend's Goliad tournament with a chance to pick up career win No. 600.
He has a 597-354-7 record as the Bobcats (2-3) open the tournament Friday against Beeville.
"A win is a win and I'll take it anyway I can," Garcia says. "Hopefully, we can reach that number this year. Six hundred is a lot of victories. I've experienced something great and I'm still experiencing it. God has been very good to me. He's given me the strength and courage to continue with this career."
Garcia's faith and appreciation for his craft have strengthened since he suffered a silent heart attack and underwent triple bypass surgery shortly after he decided to retire from coaching and teaching in 2004.
"It not only changed my approach, it change my life," he says. "I look at it a little bit different now and I take it one day at a time because every day is precious because tomorrow is not guaranteed."
Garcia's outlook may be different, but his coaching methods haven't changed. He remains a strict disciplinarian and his teams still play an aggressive style of baseball known as "Hodie Ball."
"He's a strict coach, but it's all for the good," said senior Aaron Garza. "We've improved a lot discipline wise. We listen. We do things right. He works with us a lot."
Garcia is hoping to get Bloomington back in the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
"I think kids are the same," Garcia says. ""I think it has to do with the one who's leading those kids. It's either right or wrong. If it's wrong, I need to fix it. If it's right, I need to try and make it better."
Garcia not only counts his wins on the field, but those in life.
A number of his former students and players have become coaches, including Manuel Alvarado at Victoria West and Santos Alvarado at Calhoun.
Many have thrived in areas other than athletics.
"This is important to me," he says. "This is my career. This is all I know how to do. I want to do a good job at it win or lose.
"I want my kids to feel regardless of the outcome they're going to feel like champions because they do things right. They need to choose to do things right. I want to put it together and keep it together so they can experience something good."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.