Brad Garcia said that about 74 kids attended tryouts in late January. (Photos courtesy of Brad Garcia.)

Brad Garcia has always had a love for the game of lacrosse. He was a standout lacrosse player in the state of New York at Lakeland High School. He made the All-Empire State Defense team in 1995 and made the U19 USA Lacrosse team in 1995 as well. In the same year, he also went to the Australian championship with Team USA.

He had offers from Syracuse, Delaware and Hartford to continue his lacrosse career after high school but decided to put the game aside after he was burnt out. He later found his love for the game again as a coach when his two sons, Austin (15) and Brooks (13), began playing recreational lacrosse.

Garcia was hesitant at first to coach his sons because he had a bad experience as a child getting ‘overcoached,’ but after Garcia had a few years of watching on the sidelines, Austin embraced the opportunity to be coached by his father. Garcia said that Austin, who attends Bloomingdale High School, is also on the varsity cross-country team and is very coachable. He added that they often watch tapes together. He would love to see his two sons playing together in high school in a couple of years.

“He’s reignited my love for the game, which is exciting,” said Garcia. “I thought that life was behind me, but life works in mysterious ways and here I am, back in the mix of things.”

He coached youth recreational lacrosse for three seasons with the FishHawk Coyotes, a club high school team, in fall 2023 and coached the Tampa Bay Hawks youth club lacrosse team in the winter season of 2023.

The former lacrosse standout was hired as head coach by Bloomingdale High School in August 2023 to help rebuild a struggling program that went 4-12 the previous season. 

“The stars just aligned,” said Garcia. “I went and watched several of their games last year and told my wife that I’d love this opportunity to have a chance to coach a high school team around here with all the knowledge and experience and the people I know. I know I can bring it down here and change the culture of the Bloomingdale program.”

The high school lacrosse season starts in February. The team has partnered with Heroes Paradise in Brandon for conditioning and practice. Garcia’s goal for the first season is to finish .500 or better. His short-term goal is to win a district title in a couple of years, and ultimately compete for a state title. Interest in the program has grown exponentially since Garcia took over. He said that about 74 kids attended tryouts in late January.

“I just love the game,” said Garcia. “Any time I step out onto that field, whether or not it’s coaching or playing, my heart starts racing. I just get really excited, and it brings me back to when I was in high school playing. And it’s also really nice to be a part of the community.” 

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.