Riley Garcia is one of the best players from the Chicago, Illinois area in the Class of 2020.
The 5-foot-8, 140-pound Garcia, who attends Wheeler High School, is a dynamic player that works as an attacking midfielder.
Garcia, who plays for the Indiana Elite FC, has earned plenty of recognition during her outstanding career, such as: 3-year All-Conference, 3-year-team captain, 2-year-All District, Academic All-State, All-State 3rd team and Co-MVP.
Garcia is humbled for the chance to showcase her skills.
“Me getting those awards makes me proud of myself because it shows that my hard work is paying off,” Garcia said. “It was an amazing experience to be able to be part of events like the All-District games and even making it to state two years in a row for high school. Not everyone gets the chance to be able to play in events like those and the fact that I was able to participate in them events is life changing.”
No matter the opponent, every match Garcia is determined to give it her all.
Garcia is going all out.
The motor is always at full throttle whenever Garcia steps between the lines.
“At my position I always try to think of the next step or how I’m going to open up the field more. Whether it’s giving a through ball to one of the forwards or passing it back to our defense to recycle, I try to see the whole field so I know what I want to do next,” Garcia said. “I really like to go forward but if there aren’t any options then I will play back to our defense.”
Garcia has great passion and energy whenever she’s on the field. Garcia tells why she enjoys the game of soccer so much.
“I love the adrenaline and the rush that playing soccer gives me,” Garcia said. “Being creative with moves and passes and then celebrating with your team after you score is one of the best feelings in the world.”
Garcia has learned many valuable lessons from playing soccer that she applies to his everyday life.
The main one is applying perspective to all situations.
“Soccer has taught me to enjoy the little things,” Garcia said.”I can say for a fact, that I do not like conditioning practices but I try to make memories out of them with my teammates because I know that one day, I’m going to miss doing suicides and sprints with my teammates.”
Garcia recalls her favorite soccer memory.
“My favorite memory of playing is getting a hat trick in one of the all district games,” Garcia said. “It was so fun and exciting playing at a high level with girls from all around Indiana and showing that I could compete with the other top players in the state.”
Semir Mesanovic has been Garcia’s coach for the Indiana Elite for the last two years.
Mesanovic explains the best parts of Garcia’s game.
“She is a player that looks to create chances for herself to shoot and score and creates chances for teammates,” Mesanovic said. “She is a very complete attacker that can shoot with either foot, attack one-on-one and also create chances for herself and assists for teammates. She holds the ball to build up plays for teammates.”
Garcia takes her role as one of the leaders on the team very seriously. Garcia makes sure she’s a daily positive influence on her peers.
“During games and practices, I always try to help people out on the field. I try to stay positive and keep everyone’s heads up. like when someone does something good I’ll say ‘good job’ or ‘nice ball’. Even if someone makes a mistake I will always try and make them not feel bad about it by telling them that it’s okay,” Garcia said. “The best advice that I have given someone is to not take soccer for granted. In a blink of an eye it could be all gone, whether you get hurt or something else happens. Enjoy every second of it, because one day you won’t be an athlete and you’ll miss it.”
Mesanovic adds that Garcia is one of those consummate teammates that every squad needs to be successful.
“Her leadership has come from an early age,” Mesanovic said.”She is a very selfless teammate that thinks of others first. She is the ultimate teammate on and off the field.”
Garcia is appreciative of having amazing male role models that are supportive.
“I’ve learned that you always have to try and have a good attitude even if something isn’t going your way. Nothing is going to come out good if you have a bad attitude all the time. Also, I’ve learned to just enjoy the moment while it happening and to take it one step at a time. If your worrying about the future then you won’t be able to enjoy what’s happening right now,” Garcia said. “The best advice my coaches have given me over the years is to enjoy the game while you can still play it. When you’re out on that field, every second of every minute, work hard because one day you won’t be playing. And you’ll regret being lazy or not enjoying it more and wish you didn’t take it for granted.”
Mesanovic is an advocate of Garcia’s capabilities.
“Scored and assisted on many goals to help team reach regional level play and finished first,” Mesanovic said. “She helped the team reach the President’s Cup final and played through injury.”
In addition to making clutch plays, Garcia also has a high level of soccer IQ as well.
Garcia has excellent awareness that puts her in position to thrive.
“She’s a very smart and technical player that can attack one-on-one and create two-on-one chances,” Mesanovic said. “She builds up play and has a very high level IQ. She is an unselfish forward that’s also aggressive.”
Garcia is on the grind to perfect and hone her craft in any way possible.
“She trains how she competes in games,” Mesanovic said. “She is a great teammate on and off the field with great positive attitude that thinks of others first. She looks to perfect her craft and works on her game to benefit the team.”
Mesanovic raves about the characteristics of Garcia.
“Riley is very unique to her style,” Mesanovic said. “She attacks, creates and scores. She is the ultimate teammate. Alex Morgan is the player she can relate to and look up to.”
Garcia patterns her play after this standout.
“I don’t watch pros that much but I like Messi because he’s so fast and seems to get around everyone that comes in his path and it amazes me how he does the things that he does,” Garcia said.
Garcia is constantly striving for greatness in everything that she does.
“My goal on the field is just to enjoy playing and trying to stay positive,” Garcia said. “My goal off the field is to graduate high school in the Academic Hall of Fame, graduate college and then get a job at a hospital and get my own house/apartment.”
Garcia wants to continue playing soccer in the Midwest at the collegiate level.
“I want to become a registered nurse and want to stay in Indiana to stay at least a little close to my family,” Garcia said. “Some ideas in mind were IU Bloomington, IUPUI and University of Indy.”
Garcia lists math as her favorite subject in school.
“Math comes easy to me and I find it easy to study form,” Garcia said. “I like writing out all of the steps on my paper in order to get the answer.”
Mesanovic believes Garcia is determined take her game to the next level.
“She is working on getting back to full fitness. She made the regional team in high school where she is carrying a few injuries from. She is a player that draws a lot of attention from opposing teams and also gets fouled a lot,” Mesanovic said. “We are working on explosive speed and to be quicker and more fundamental in one-on-one situations.”
Mesanovic believes the sky is the limit as long as Garcia continues to stay hungry.
“Riley has the attitude, hard work ethic in training and determination to play high level, college level and beyond,” Mesanovic said. “She is currently communicating with several college coaches to possibly be a student athlete under a scholarship in the near future. Time will tell but with great work ethic, sacrifice and determination, Riley has a great future.”
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