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Coach made journey from Venezuela to Woodinville

  • Written by Derek Johnson
It’s a summer evening at a little old ballpark in rural Monroe. The game is over and Woodinville has won. Players and fans head for the parking lot. And 38-year old Guillermo Garcia stands on the field. He talks with a reporter.
 
“When I was growing up in Venezuela we had only three baseballs for the whole team,” Garcia said. “Only a couple of bats. When I came here I see the difference. Every kid here has his own glove. Every kid has his own bat. It’s a huge, huge difference.”
 
DSC 0784Guillermo Garcia (left) with WBC president Sparky Parker. (Photo by Heidi Springer) Garcia is in his third season as head coach for the Woodinville Baseball Club. As of this writing, his 15U/16U squad prepared for a summer post season tourney.
 
As a boy in Venezuela, Garcia lived in extreme poverty. Like thousands of kids, he began playing baseball at 6 years old. He played shortstop for the most part.
 
The United States seemed like a faraway Shangri-la. Garcia’s bedroom featured posters of Bo Jackson, the former multi-sport superstar. Garcia saw videos of Jackson hitting colossal home runs for the Kansas City Royals. He saw Jackson break baseball bats over his knee like they were twigs. He even saw him play on Monday Night Football for the Los Angeles Raiders, running over Seattle’s Brian Bosworth at the goal line.
 
Garcia grew up in the state of Aragua. He represented that state in National Little League for nine straight years. “I grew up with Carlos Guillen,” Garcia said of the former Major Leaguer. “Carlos was four years older.”
 
At the age of 16, Garcia signed with the Detroit Tigers. He played in their developmental system for four years, until leg injuries ended his playing career.
 
In 1998, Carlos Guillen came to the Seattle Mariners as part of the famous Randy Johnson trade. By 2001, Guillen was frustrated with repeated injuries. So he hired Garcia to move to Seattle and become his trainer.
 
DSC 0877Garcia coaching up the kids. (Photo by Heidi Springer) Guillermo Garcia was in Seattle when the Mariners won a Major League record 116 games during the 2001 season. In 2004, when Guillen went to Detroit. Garcia stayed in Seattle and began teaching and coaching baseball to kids. He started a company called G2 Baseball.

“The big difference from when I was in Venezuela was the fields,” Garcia said. “So nice and clean. That’s a huge, huge difference. I had never seen a pitching machine before [coming to America]. When I was growing up, we only had one or two fields for the whole season. Here we can pick any field we want to play.”
 
In 2015, Woodinville Baseball Club president Sparky Parker offered Garcia a head coaching job with the 15U/16U summer team. Garcia has enjoyed the role. 
 
“I love to teach kids and show them why they need to be better,” Garcia said. “They have to show me they want to be better. I tell the kids, if you’re good the scouts will follow you and find you. They say how? I say everybody is talking. Like with bird dogs. That’s why we push so hard in our country to be better. Here, everyone has 3-4 different sports to play. If you can’t play baseball, you play basketball or something else. But in my country, it’s just baseball year round.”
 
In recent months, the economic situation in Venezuela has hit crisis levels. Inflation teeters at 43,000%. Daily life is desperate. Garcia described scenes where simply going out in public with nice shoes poses a big risk. You become a target. People steal shoes and other nice items and then use them to barter as currency for food, goods and services.
 
“It’s tough,” Garcia said. “If you go to the supermarket it’s hard to find anything. The minimum wage is $3 a month. If you start talking bad about politicians, you can [get into trouble]. Over the last 20 years, the freedom there has disappeared.”
 
“I have my whole family down there,” Garcia added. “My sister and mom finally came here last year to stay here. But the others are still there.”
 
As the interview concluded, Garcia and the reporter walked off the field. The parking lot was empty. Garcia smiled and said goodbye. He headed home to his wife, Johana Duque, and daughter, Gianna Garcia.
 
Later that night, the reporter received an email from a Woodinville parent.
“The kids all love him,” the parent said. “We’re so lucky to have this amazing coach.”

Tryouts for the 2019 baseball season will be held at the Woodinville High School Baseball Field on the following dates:
July 25th  6:00-8:00 p.m.-13U
July 26th  6:00-8:00 p.m.-14U, 15U and 16U
August 1st  6:00-8:00 p.m.-14U, 15U and 16U
August 2nd  6:00-8:00 p.m.-13U
 
For more information, go to WoodinvilleBaseballClub.com

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