It’s been more than a year since Yumi Garcia took her first step onto Halton Arena’s slickly polished maple court. The game was against South Carolina State and Garcia finished with 11 digs. The 49ers beat the Bulldogs 0-3. Garcia quickly made a name for herself as a defensive dynamo and exhibited why she was so highly touted out of high school. Garcia’s conquest towards prominence began in Cerejeiras, Brazil, and her devotion to volleyball is hereditary.
“When I was six-years-old, my brother used to play volleyball so I used to go with him to practice. I wanted to do exactly the same thing so that’s why I started playing volleyball,” said Garcia.
Her brother’s admiration for volleyball drove Garcia’s competitive spirit, which led her to play for Colegio Regina Mundi in high school.
“I went to Colegio Regina Mundi because I thought they were a good team and I wanted to play at a good club,” said Garcia.
After her stint at Colegio Regina Mundi, Garcia attended Bethel University in Tennessee. During her time at Bethel, she had a team best, 554 digs. Garcia was also named to the SSAC’s All-Freshman, All-Conference and All-Tournament teams. Her journey before and after attending Bethel was a tumultuous one.
“It was such a long ride. First of all, I moved from my city to another state in Brazil to play volleyball. Then from there, I went to Bethel University which is another school, and then I ended up here [UNC Charlotte]. I had ACL surgery in high school, I didn’t live with my parents and I moved out of my house when I was 14. I had to figure out how to be independent.” said Garcia.
The obstacles Garcia has faced to get where she is now is why she takes every game in stride. Every game is another opportunity to help her team win, which is why she makes sure her spirit and psyche are sound.
“[I] put my mind in the right place for sure. Every time we’re about to play, I just start to think about what I want to do on the court and I calm myself down if I’m nervous. I pray too; that’s part [of] my routine,” said Garcia.
Garcia’s perseverance explains why she was able to have a record breaking 44 dig contest against Davidson this season. Garcia’s mindset throughout the game wasn’t to break a record, but to win.
“I was definitely not thinking about breaking the school record. I was trying to do my best and win the game,” said Garcia.
Garcia’s main priority is to help secure the win for her team, numbers don’t push her to play harder.
“For me, it’s not thinking about the numbers, it’s more about the game. Every time we’re going to play a game, I don’t think about getting 40 digs or anything like that, I think that I wanna win and I’m going do my best to do that.” said Garcia.
Garcia’s team-first mentality makes her sometimes shy away from announcing her own individual goals.
“I do have a personal goal that I want to accomplish this year. For the team, of course, we want to go to the tournament and win conference and get the ring; that’s what we want. My plan is to break the all time conference record.” said Garcia.
Garcia doesn’t play volleyball 365 days of the year; she spends her time off similarly to how most college students spend their free time.
“I like to hang out with my friends, watch TV shows or watch movies. When I’m not playing, I just like to chill honestly because I’m always so tired. We are doing so many things that when we’re not doing anything, I just want to chill.” said Garcia.
Garcia also takes time out of her schedule to visit Cerejeiras, visiting once a year.
Garcia’s new home away from home, UNC Charlotte, has helped her grow as a person and player. 49ers Volleyball Coach Karen Weatherington has had a significant impact on Garcia.
“One of the things that coach Weatherington taught me, it might not be directly, but sometimes when she says things it makes me think about being that powerful woman. She’s a good representation of how, as women, we can do a lot of things as well [sic].” said Garcia.
Garcia wants to follow in the footsteps of Coach Weatherington and inspire younger girls to dig their way to their dreams.
“I wanna say for little girls to not let people tell you what you can and can not do. If you wanna do something really badly, you can work hard, dream and set your goals. I’ve heard in my life so many times that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish something, but here I am.” said Garcia.
Garcia left Niner Nation with three words.
“Nothing is impossible.” said Garcia.
Nothing is impossible, and this Charlotte 49er is a testament to this.
There are eight games left this season and Garcia is on pace to break her own dig record. She’s currently at 532, but knowing Garcia, she’ll settle for the Conference USA Championship. All eyes will be on Garcia as she continues to stake her claim in the record books and the world.