Coach Jeaney Garcia: When “Try” Becomes “Do”

We caught up with our athletic director, Jeaney Garcia, recently—which isn’t that easy given that she is always on the move!

Coach Garcia is busy bringing new athletic programs to Bosque School. She has brought together an inspired group of coaches, and the middle and high school teams are achieving great things so far this year because of strong leadership and motivated students.

In the interview below, Coach Garcia shares insights about our new programs, being a coach, and why every student should at least try an athletic activity.

Q: We've had some exciting developments this year like mountain biking and additional middle school sports. Can you tell us a bit more about the new sports added to our athletics program this year?

I love expanding choices so that everyone can feel a part of something. Mountain biking only happened because of Head Coach Kim and Assistant Coach Matt Fike. This power coach duo has a passion for mountain biking and wanted to bring their passion to Bosque in the form of a team. Coach Kim managed all the logistics of starting a new team, and we now have an incredible group of riders competing all over New Mexico. It's absolutely fantastic!

The newest middle school sport is archery. The APIAL had an introductory season last year, which was successful enough that this year, archery is now a sport. Thanks to Co-Head Coaches Pam Sever and Kate Sanchez, who originally brought archery as a PE activity to Bosque a few years ago, we currently have a team of 20 enthusiastic archers! It's extraordinary when we have such dedicated staffulty who want to support students in athletics! I'm truly grateful.

Q: You've been at Bosque School for a couple of years now! What are your favorite parts of being the athletic director at Bosque School?

The student-athletes and coaches who bring a caring collective to our school. We have a vibrant and healthy athletics culture that contributes to the positivity of our community.

Our coaches are amazing human beings who give generously of their time, expertise, and love of sport and kids.

Coaching a team is one of the most demanding and rewarding jobs ever. From exasperation to exhilaration, and everything in between and beyond. The highs and lows from game to game and season to season, the opportunity to play an influential role in the development of students, both athletically and in their “off the field” lives as well. Many of the lessons coaches teach will stay with our students for the rest of their lives.

Q: Everyone knows you as Coach Garcia. What does being a coach mean to you?

The essence of coaching is raising awareness and responsibility to unlock potential and maximize performance. When a coach can get kids to believe in themselves in a positive atmosphere, everyone thrives.

Awareness is created through broadening perspectives and improving the focus of attention, which increases interest, insight, and learning. Responsibility is generated by offering choices and setting up accountability, which increases confidence, self-motivation, and commitment. Awareness and responsibility are both states of mind, and the mind is key to high performance.

Knowledge and experience are important for performance, but neither is as important as mindset, which is the level at which performance coaching works. Coaching lifts the focus of attention on strengths, successes, and future possibilities. It leaves behind mistakes and failures and removes judgment, blame, and limiting beliefs. Being able to unlock a person’s potential to maximize their own performance is what a coach means to me.

Q: What sets apart our athletics program at Bosque School?

We strive to create a positive athletics experience in which students can compete with dignity and integrity in an inviting, fun, and supportive environment. We provide a space where student-athletes feel valued and respected, and where cooperation among teammates is fostered.

With high expectations for exemplary conduct, our athletic programs help students gain confidence, develop determination, and understand the importance of teamwork. These are not just words, all of this is in action every day. It's quite inspiring!

Q: We have a new sports medicine club this year! Can you tell us how it came to be? Why is this club significant to you? 

Emilio Ulibarri, our awesome ATC, wanted to create a place where students could learn, in a hands-on environment, how to care for, rehabilitate, and strengthen individuals and teams for maximum performance. It's one of the most popular clubs on campus, and we now have students at every practice and game.

Q: In your own words, why do you think it's important to play a sport and be a part of a team?

Besides the physical importance of improving cardiorespiratory fitness, building stronger bones and muscles, and controlling weight, play also reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression and reduces the risk of developing health conditions such as heart disease. Playing a sport also helps kids expend energy, which often helps them focus and concentrate better in the classroom.

Most importantly, playing sports regularly improves overall emotional well-being. Regular exercise has also been linked with these emotional responses in students: Better behavior and less acting out. Improved self-esteem. Improved sleep.

On top of the physical and mental benefits, having fun in an inclusive environment where everyone is striving to improve by working diligently and supporting one another is really the key to success.

Q: We have quite a few students who practice an athletic activity or play a sport on their own. How does Bosque School support these athletes?

It's absolutely wonderful that we have so many active and engaged students. These activities should not be confined to just interscholastic sports, but to anything that a student wants to learn, master, or just be involved in.

I expanded our upper school physical education program to include any approved off-campus activity. We have students who are gymnasts, who rock climb, practice yoga, ballet, ice hockey, figure skating, karate, jujitsu, diving, and fencing.

Q: What impresses you about our Bosque Bobcat athletes?

The friendships, enthusiasm, and loyalty that come from mutual esteem, respect, and devotion. There is a demonstrated appreciation among teammates, which I hope will make for positively memorable seasons where every student-athlete will remember and come back to campus as an alum and cherish these precious memories.

Q: We hear you're a pickleball champion. Tell us about your pickleball experience and how you've incorporated it into physical education at Bosque School.

I discovered pickleball in 2016. After a 40-year athletic life in several sports, mainly in basketball and running, it was time to trade 70-mile weeks and marathoning for something new.

My friend invited me to play pickleball, and I said, “Sure! What’s that?” A month later, I was playing 4 hours at a time with a group of amazing people, enjoying drop shot drills, adding new friends into my phone prefaced with “PB,” and studying 5.0 match videos almost nightly.

This sport offered the athleticism, competitiveness, camaraderie, and, most of all, FUN that I wanted. So I became a certified instructor, a certified referee, an official ambassador, and a medal winner in tournaments starting at 3.5 and now at 4.5/5.0. I am the 6X World Games Senior Champion. It's quite unbelievable and humbling.

I give lessons, lead skill development clinics, help athletes with their mental strategies, and just love to PLAY! I’m pretty much smiling the whole time.

Pickleball has introduced me to so many fascinating people with incredible stories. PB is so much more than a game, it’s indeed a lifestyle. I now share that lifestyle in PE classes at Bosque, and I'm working on the first PB team, which will compete as a new district sport!

Q: Do you have any advice for anyone who hasn't joined a sport, but might be interested?

My junior high school coach saved my life. I had debilitating asthma and other health issues, and I had a doctor's note prohibiting me from participating in PE or any sport until the 8th grade. My coach asked me if I wanted to be part of the track and field team, and before I could say anything, there I was on the track.

At first, I could not even walk the mandated two-lap warm-up, but after several weeks, I was able to jog. I started throwing the softball, then the discus, then the shot put. I was being included and welcomed in a way that had not happened in my life. Being an athlete with goals and initiative gave me direction and confidence, which put focus on what I wanted to do and who I wanted to become.

Everything I do now, including being an athletic director for 26 years, is my way of giving back. I want to make sure that every person has an opportunity to find something meaningful and fulfilling that makes them feel good about themselves as human beings.

My advice is just to try, and possibly try something that maybe you haven't even tried before. The “try” becomes “do,” and the “do” becomes you. Success is having the self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the kind of person you have always looked up to, and who is respected in return, which ultimately gives you peace in where and who you are.

Thanks, Coach Garcia! You are an inspiration to all of us. Go, Bobcats!