Being successful in life has a lot to do with maximizing opportunities that are presented. Dylan Garza, a freshman architecture major and multisport athlete, is attempting to do just that. During his short time spent at Oregon, not only has he applied to the University’s School of Architecture and Allied Arts, he is also a member of the school’s club baseball team and is simultaneously preparing for football tryouts, which take place during the first week of spring term.
While Garza has quickly become involved in many athletic and academic responsibilities in school, Eugene, Oregon seemed like an improbable destination just a few months ago.
An unlikely pairing
Born and raised in Othello, Wash., the University of Oregon wasn’t on the short list of colleges Garza considered in the early going. In fact, it was pretty set in stone that he would be attending Eastern Washington, a university where his three siblings either studied, are currently studying or will be studying at in the near future.
“My father was basically like, ‘Unless you can get more money to go to another school, you’re going to go to Eastern Washington,’” Garza said. ”I figured that’s where I would probably end up.”
Then came the spring of his senior year, when an opportunity presented itself that was simply too big to pass up. He was awarded a Diversity Excellence Scholarship from Oregon, which “recognizes the academic achievement and potential of students who, through sharing their varied cultural perspectives, will enhance the education of all students and the excellence of the university.” His high school GPA of 3.85 had already landed him the Presidential Scholarship earlier in his senior year and those two scholarships combined to make Oregon a reality.
Yet, even with the financial grants that he had received, Garza wasn’t 100 percent committed to becoming a Duck.
“I looked around at Oregon State too, because I had money to go there and I really liked their engineering program,” he says. “But I wanted to continue to play sports in college and OSU didn’t have a club baseball team at the time, and Oregon did.”
The combination of the school’s athletic programs, club teams, and architecture school eventually convinced him that Eugene was in his best interest.
The life of a student-athlete
Now in his second term at the University, Garza has become fully immersed in the heavy workload demanded of a student athlete. He practices three times a week with the club baseball team: Mondays and Wednesdays from 5-7 p.m. at the recreational fields and Tuesdays from 8-9 p.m. at the batting cages at the Gateway Mall.
Additionally, he has created his own workout regimen while preparing for football tryouts, which includes a running class and weightlifting sessions throughout the week. On top of that, he must maintain an adequate GPA in order to keep his scholarships and get accepted into the architecture program. This dedication to achieving success is not going unnoticed.
“He’s always doing what we ask of him and he is always making sure he gets the best out of himself and out of others,” says second-year club baseball coach Chase Pennington, a senior at the University.
Added junior outfielder and club coordinator Kyle Jones, “Dylan is competing with our returning catcher as well as another catcher on the roster. It’s a competition out here every day and he’s always battling, which I think says a lot.”
Choosing a sport
Should football work out, Garza would like to play on the team as long as he can. He’ll try out at linebacker and safety, though he was an all-conference defensive lineman in high school. If he is cut this spring, however, then he says his full attention will shift to baseball.
“I love both sports so much,” Garza says. “They’re probably tied with each other. If I don’t make the football team then I will just begin to focus full-time on baseball and I will have no problem doing that.”
The club baseball team was scheduled to play their first game of the year against Portland State in Eugene this past weekend, but the game was canceled because there wasn’t a field ready for use. The Ducks’ next scheduled game is set for March 1 against Utah State, part of a three-day tournament in Mesquite, Nev.
This summer, Garza will continue to play with the Columbia Basin Riverdogs, a summer baseball team in Ephrata, Wash. The Riverdogs are coached by Gabe Boruff, who is also an assistant coach at Washington State University. This preparation, Garza hopes, will land him a spot on Oregon’s school baseball team next fall.
Whichever route — football or baseball — presents itself, you can be sure he’ll be ready to seize the opportunity.