by MARCELLA IVINS/Staff Writer
Cristian Garcia is always setting his sights on something new.
Ever since Garcia began as a cheerleader, the high school he went to would go to Natoinal Cheerleaders Association camps. When he first saw the staffers at NCA, he knew that’s what he wanted to do one day. Garcia kept his word and is now working for them.
“I love it when I’m at my job, not at NCA, but my normal job, and I see old students from a high school that came to one of our NCA camps, and I can just talk to them about their stunts or something we worked on while I was with them,” Garcia said. “I like having that conversation with them in a normal setting, and realizing that I make an impact on them. It even surprises me that they remember me. Working for NCA is great. It is definitely more rewarding than a paycheck.”
A Lubbock native, Garcia graduated from Roosevelt High School in 2015. During his time at Roosevelt, he was involved in cheerleading, band/color guard, cross-country, tennis, and One-Act Play. Those who knew him know how hard he worked and how much heart went into his practices.
During his senior year, some of the staff didn’t agree with him being involved in so many activities, which resulted in Garcia being kicked off the cheer team, according to Garcia. Even though he was involved in all of those activities, his main purpose was to pursue cheerleading at the collegiate level and possibly further. He proves now that being involved in a lot and having a busy schedule isn’t a reason to quit cheering.
“I’m currently working four jobs to manage my expenses,” said Garcia. “It can be hard, but I persevere through my work. I always think about the bigger picture. I know someone else is always watching, thinking about how they want to be where I’m at and do the things that I can do.”
After high school, Garcia received a full scholarship to the University of the Ozarks in Arkansas to cheer. Not only did he cheer at the Ozarks, he also competed in cross-country. During his semester there, he was forced to move back to Lubbock for family reasons. Garcia said that he knew he needed to come back, because the Ozarks didn’t really provide anything new for him to learn. Instead, he found himself helping others and being a “teacher” instead.
“They weren’t giving me the tools to be a better cheerleader, and I didn’t learn any new skills,” Garcia explains. “I was just maintaining and practicing what I already knew, but I am grateful for the friends and memories I made and that I was able to help them at the same time.”
Garcia then came to SPC for the spring semester. He is a freshman, with a major of general studies. But he adds that he is interested in Fashion Design. Garcia is currently taking classes at the Reese Center campus. He does not cheer for SPC.
“I was wanting to cheer for SPC in my spare time, but I noticed SPC has never had a male cheerleader,” Garcia said. “Only females cheer at SPC. I was wanting to break a new barrier, and open the doors for other male cheerleaders in the future to be invited to be on the squad.”
Garcia does cheer with Ultimate Lubbock, which has won awards since opening the gym two years ago. Garcia’s goal is to become a Texas Tech cheerleader. In order for him to do that, he wants to learn to compete at the collegiate level, not much harder than what he already knows.
“Before I left to the Ozarks, I competed with Ultimate cheer, and I knew I was going to miss it here,” Garcia explained. “But I was also excited to learn about being a collegiate cheerleader and new skills to bring back with me because I didn’t learn any new skills over there,” he added. “I realized I could’ve spent more time practicing to be a better collegiate cheerleader if I stayed. But I’m happy to be back during this time, because last weekend we won NCA (National Cheer Association) all-star Nationals.”
Ultimate Lubbock’s team, Prodigy, went to Summit last year and won first place in the WildCard round. The next round they placed third and ended up being selected out of eight teams to continue to compete. Recently, on Feb. 20 – Feb. 21, they competed at nationals and won first place. Garcia really looks up to his coach, Andrew. He wants to be where he is, and where he has been.
“My current coach, Andrew, really understands me and what it’s like coming from a low-income family,” said Garcia. “Also, his family didn’t want him cheering either. Andrew has many titles from competing. He has Collegiate, World, All Star, National, and National Champ as a coach. He also cheered for Texas Tech, which is what I want to do.
Garcia also plans to compete in Color Guard competitions one day, such as Winter Guard International and Drum Corps International. That will only come in time. He says he has already auditioned for Cross Men, Cavaliers, and Aevitas Independent. He was contracted by Aevitas, but wasn’t able to follow through because he was moving.
Garcia says that he is focused on earning a collegiate cheer title, as well as a NCA ring.
“It is stressful,” Garcia said. “I’m not going to sugar coat it. But I’m not wasting any time to get an NCA ring.”
Garcia said he remembers being home only five days last summer because of traveling and working for NCA. To manage his time, he makes sure that his bosses understand cheer can take up most of his time during seasons. He also keeps a monthly and daily planner so that nothing overlaps.
Being a male cheerleader was hard at first, according to Garcia, but he just told himself to go for it. He encourages others to do the same.
“To be the best, set goals and reach them for yourself,” Garcia explains. “Once you reach something you can’t stop. You have to think about what you’re going to do next.”
Garcia will be competing with his team, Prodigy, in Las Vegas and Florida. He doesn’t plan on quitting any time soon, while always looking for something new to do.