OTTAWA - Carleton's Raphaël Garcia has been named to the U SPORTS Top 8 Academic All-Canadians. The award recognizes one female and one male student-athlete from each of the four U SPORTS conferences.
An Ottawa native, Garcia returned to the Carleton Ravens ahead of the 2021-22 season after having played one season in the CPL with Winnipeg's Valour FC. In his first season with Carleton, Garcia established himself as one of the country's top defenders while also contributing two goals and four assists. His defensive efforts helped lift the team to a U SPORTS silver medal while earning him recognition as an OUA East All-Star and First Team All-Canadian.
A Law student, Garcia's on-field success carried with him into the classroom where he achieved an 11.11 GPA while earning Academic All-Canadian and Dean's Honours List awards.
"Raphael, in only his second year, has been recognized as one of the country's top defenders. He has been successful in translating his on-field recognition, to the classroom with a strong work ethic, and overall commitment to the process of success," said Ravens Manager of Soccer Programs Kwesi Loney. "It is no surprise he is being recognized in this manner. I'm very proud of his achievements and know it's only the beginning."
Despite the rigours of balancing student-athlete commitments, Garcia is also a youth coach and mentor in the Ottawa community of Gloucester and with the Junior Ravens Program.
“We are thrilled to recognize Raphaël Garcia for his dedication and service, to both athletic and academic obligations," expressed Assistant Director, High Performance Sport, Dalton Myers. "Raphaël’s character, his commitment to his team coupled with his impressive academic standings is significant as it is indicative of what the university stands for and our overall mission.”
Garcia is the third Raven, and the first soccer player to earn the honour, joining Robert Smart (2002-2003) and Tyson Hinz (2013-2014) of the men's basketball team. Garcia is the first OUA men's soccer player from any school to win the award since Darragh McGee of Toronto in 2011-2012.
Reflecting on his journey from the CPL to Carleton Garcia admits the transition wasn't easy. "I left professional sports to come to Carleton during COVID, and when you first make that decision there's some doubt, so to receive a prize like this definitely confirms that I made the right decision." A true team player, Garcia is humbled to even have been nominated for the prestigious award.
"I was never one to win individual awards," Garcia admits. "When you start winning individual awards you almost have this feeling of guilt, as if 'Why me?'" Garcia's humble nature led to a feeling of surprise when he received the phone call notifying him of the honour.
Understanding that athletics don't come easy to anyone, Garcia credits his mother - a teacher - for helping to establish a foundation for success that helped ease his transition back to academics.
"First and foremost, my mom was a teacher for thirty years so when I grew up the only rule we had was that you could have your free time only when your homework was done." A simple rule that helped Garcia establish a rhythm when he arrived at Carleton. The defender admits that at times, he uses false deadlines, set a week early, to ensure nothing was missed.
"It's all about time management, like everyone else I procrastinate," recognizes Garcia. "It's about getting the schedule ready in advance, there's no secret to it. It's just about getting it done and doing the things that you need to do."
"This award just means you can really achieve anything you put your mind to," said Garcia. "A lot of people come to university because it's the right thing to do, but I came with the goal in mind to get a degree and get good grades so already I feel I had that advantage."