SODA 2013 Seniors: Cade Garcia named SODA’s valedictorian

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Cade Garcia is the first valedictorian in the first graduating class of the School of Dreams Academy, and he is proud to represent his school so well.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: Cade Garcia is the valedictorian for the School of Dreams Academy’s first graduating class. The Los Lunas charter school student plans on attending CNM this fall to pursue a career as a radiologist.

Learning to speak Spanish was one of his favorite dual-credit classes, and he particularly liked his Spanish teacher, Lorena Herrera, who always pushed him to do better and up his game, he said.

“She always wanted the best for me,” Garcia said.

English literature and digital arts were two other dual-enrollment classes he took for college credit.

Putting school first and paying close attention in class, as well as taking copious notes are the keys to his academic success, he said.

“I made sure to take key notes, the key points that the teachers give (in lectures),” Garcia said.

SODA Dean of Students Eric Brown said Garcia is respectful and studious.

“He took rigorous math and calculus classes, and he’s got a solid GPA (grade point average),” Brown said. “He’s a great kid.”

Garcia’s mother, Dorey, said she pushes all three of her children to do well in school.

“I nag him a lot,” she said. “He probably wouldn’t say that, but I ride him really hard, so they’re driven because they have me pushing them constantly.”

Garcia was home-schooled in Bosque Farms until fifth grade. For middle school, he attended the Los Lunas Family School.

For the past four years, Garcia has been at the School of Dreams Academy in Los Lunas. It was the robotics program, and guitar classes with SODA teacher Jeff Jolly that attracted him to the public charter school, said Garcia.

He took guitar lessons for a couple of years, and participated in Botball, BEST and FIRST robotics programs over the past three years, traveling with the school to competitions in Oklahoma and Texas.

In Las Cruces, his team won first place in BEST robotics.

Building robots on the fabrication team was a lot of fun, Garcia said, and it made him think about going into mechanical engineering.

“Mr. Edington is a really good teacher, I owe a lot to him,” he said.

One of Garcia’s favorite high school memories was when the robotics team members painted themselves. They had been told to paint the robots, but they got carried away, and Eric Brown, the former robotics teacher, had to cancel the class that day.

They were giddy after spending many long nights in preparation for the competition, Garcia said.

But playing baseball is Garcia’s greatest passion. The charter school doesn’t have a full sports department yet, so he has been playing with the Valencia High School Jaguars, under coach Carlos Carrasco.

He goes to practice every day, and plays in the school games. In the pitching rotation, Garcia was the ace pitcher and No. 1 catcher.

“He had the highest batting average in the district last year,” his mother said. “When it comes to baseball, that’s his thing.”

He also belongs to the Nataani Baseball showcase club, and has traveled around the state and Arizona to attract college scouts.

His plan was to pursue baseball at Highlands University, but an injury last year reined in his ambition, and gave him a new perspective.

He tore his ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow while he was pitching last year. It tore in two places, a very serious problem for a baseball pitcher.

The elbow has healed fairly well, he said.

“It feels good. I think I could play and be fine, but then there’s the risk I could tear it again.”

Non-surgical treatment is usually adequate, but if he wishes to return to strenuous throwing activities, then surgery is recommended.

Garcia can still bat and play the game, but he wants to get the surgery to repair the damage, so he can return to the game and play in college.

“Playing baseball is my No. 1 dream,” he said.

The surgery is expensive, and most insurance companies don’t cover it because it is considered non-medical. Garcia said he’s also eager to get a job this summer and start making money.

When Garcia had an MRI of his elbow, the radiology technician had experienced the same sports injury years before. It forced him to re-evaluate his plans for baseball, and he ended up going into radiology, the SODA senior said.

Garcia was inspired, and decided to revise his plans to pursue a career in radiology, as well.

The radiology technician recommended Central New Mexico Community College for a good radiology program without the high costs of other schools. Garcia plans to attend CNM in the fall.

During this time, he hopes to get the surgery done. Recovery from the surgery is about nine months.

Garcia’s mother said his coach thinks her son can play college baseball once he heals from the surgery.

“Every kid dreams of being something when they’re little,” she said. “He dreamed of being a pro player. If you’re sports-minded, everybody dreams about that to a point, but he’s older now and very realistic. He knows it’s very slim to none that anybody makes it pro, no matter how good you are.”

Life is full of curve balls, but Garcia has his backup plan. He’ll work on his degree in radiology until he can be a pitcher and catcher on a college team.

Being a sports radiologists sounds good to him, he said.

For now, Garcia would like to take a road trip with school friends and fellow baseball players to go camping and fishing.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.