Mike Garcia finds Spanish, PE, coaching at IHS a perfect fit

<I>KEVIN HEIMBIGNER photo</I><BR>Mike Garcia is in his first year at IHS

ILWACO -Ever since Mike Garcia signed a contract to become Ilwaco High School's Spanish and physical education teacher last summer "everything has fallen into place perfectly" according to the effervescent Garcia.

Within minutes of dropping off resumes, his wife, Kim, received an interview and subsequent job as an optic technician. His three children, Ryan in ninth grade, Dylan a sixth-grader, and Michaella in second grade, have adjusted very well from their move from Milton-Freewater, Ore.

Garcia, who taught six years there, said his family wanted to move from where they had spent most of their life "to be on our own, to have a new adventure, and to be by water." For sure they have moved to an area where there is water, and Garcia, who had come to the beach several times as a pre-teen for vacations, loves the area.

"It was either here or Moses Lake, and my relatives wanted us to be closer to Milton-Freewater, but decided to move to Ilwaco and we are happy we did," Garcia says with his ever-present smile. He loves to hunt, does some fishing, and is anxious to try his angling luck in the ocean next summer. Another adventure Garcia and his family are eager to try is clam digging.

"The staff has been great here, very welcoming. Mike Hardin has invited us to go clamming during the next tide."

Garcia graduated from McLaughlin High School in 1986 and attended two years of community college in Clackamas where he was also a varsity wrestler. He then took a job at a lumber mill, and when it shut down for economic reasons, the company offered him a transfer or further education.

Garcia jumped at the chance of furthering his education and earned a BA in Spanish and a BS in Elementary Education at Walla Walla College, a small private school. He took his first job in education in his hometown of Milton-Freewater as an elementary teacher and eventually moved to the high school to teach Spanish and P.E.

Along the way Garcia took over as varsity wrestling coach when the man who coached him in high school retired. He also was very active in coaching Babe Ruth baseball and in organizing a "fall ball" program. Garcia will assist as a coach with the wrestling program at IHS this winter and as a volunteer baseball coach this spring if all goes according to plans.

"My future goals are to either get into coaching or to become an administrator," the popular Garcia says. "I will be pursuing a master's degree down the line."

Of his move to IHS the energetic Garcia says, "It just feels right."

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