UHV’s Garcia named Arthur Ashe finalist

University of Houston-Victoria men's soccer defender Uriel Garcia has been named a 2020 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar finalist.

Uriel Garcia

Garcia, a December 2019 graduate of UHV with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, is one of three finalist selected for the award. Award winners will be announced in a virtual awards ceremony on May 28 and in the upcoming digital issue of Diverse: Issues In Higher Education.

“Our program is extremely proud of Uriel’s nomination for the Arthur Ashe award,” said UHV soccer coach Adrian Rigby. “He’s a true example of a student-athlete pursuing the highest accomplishments both academic and athletically.”

Garcia, a 2015 graduate of Pharr-San Juan-Alamo High School, twice has been named a semifinalist for the award. He was also recognized in 2018 in men’s soccer. He was one of 10 semifinalists that includes all collegiate divisions from NAIA to NCAA Division I.

As the name denotes, this edition is a part of a quarter-century legacy of recognizing outstanding minority young men and women who have distinguished themselves in their academic and athletic pursuits.

In addition to their athletic ability, students named Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars must maintain a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.5, be at least a sophomore academically, and be active on their campuses or in their communities.

“Being named one of the finalist for the award is an honor,” said Garcia. “I appreciate the consideration for the award and it shows how important the involvement is with the community, helping others out and being a role model. In the end, it’s a mutual relationship as we help each other out to develop a better community.”

Garcia, who was a four-year member of the UHV soccer team, has been very active in his community, school and team during his time with the Jaguars.

He was recently named the Red River Athletic Conference Character Athlete of the Week in recognition of his service to his school and community.

He has been involved in the Movember cancer awareness program for the past five years, has assisted with Tacos and Beer Run for Wounded Warriors, contribute many hours of his time to Samaritan's Purse to support Hurricane Harvey recovery and helped decorate a senior citizens home during Christmas.

He was named a CoSIDA Academic All-District recipient in soccer this past season, has been a Daktronics-NAIA Scholar athlete, and a four-time RRAC Scholar Athlete. He has been named to the UHV President's List five times and the Dean's List six times.

“As a leader of the UHV men’s soccer team he is a caring and passionate captain and will do anything for his teammates,” said Rigby. “He is invested in the community and is active with volunteer efforts to help serve the area. The UHV soccer program is extremely proud of Uriel being recognized for this award as it is a reflection of the person he is.”

During his four seasons with the Jaguars, he tallied two goals and four assists with two game-winning goals. The UHV defense recorded 33 shutouts during his four seasons along with a 50-11-7 record and made two trips to the NAIA National Championships opening round. He was named to the RRAC second team and Champions of Character team during the 2019 season, along with being named the team’s Newcomer of the Year in 2016.

While currently working part-time due to the Coronavirus, Garcia said he plans to go to graduate school to continue his goal of becoming a physical therapist.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Paul Ebner