After spending the 2016 and 2017 seasons with the East Bay Stompers, Diego Garcia has signed a professional contract with Mexican side Deportivo Tepic J.A.P. (FC Coras), now competing in the third division of Mexican soccer.
“It was an amazing feeling to sign my first contract,” Garcia said. “Mainly because you know you’re heading in the right direction to achieve something you only dreamed of as a child.”
While with the Stompers, Garcia participated in the NPSL Showcase, an event that brought together talented players from across the NPSL, providing them a chance to show professional scouts what they can do.
“Going to the NPSL Combine allowed me to test myself and see the areas that my game needed work on,” Garcia said. “The criticism that professional trainers gave me also played a huge part in my achievement.”
Of course, Garcia’s own play and hard work for the Stompers was a major reason for his success and eventual signing with a professional side. The Cañada Community College grad joined the Stompers in late 2015, where he made an immediate impression.
“Diego came to a training for the Stompers late in the (2015) season,” EBSFC General Manager Billy Forte said. “He was playing center back and crept up past midfield and hit a 30+ yard shot in to the upper ‘v’ of the goal. I knew instantly that the Stompers were going to sign him for 2016 and that Diego had a bright future ahead of him.”
Forte’s judgement proved solid, with Garcia becoming a mainstay in the Stompers’ back four, and made himself known as a penalty kick specialist, converting three in his time with EBSFC.
“My experience with the NPSL was great, nothing but great talent and competition all through the league,” Garcia said. “The experience I had playing with the Stompers was positive and rewarding.”
“I am happy to see Diego getting plenty of minutes in Mexico with his new team,” EBSFC Head Coach Martin Sierra added. “Although I’m not surprised, (Garcia) was always a smart and solid fixture to the Stompers back line.”
Now that he’s with FC Coras, Garcia is hoping to continue getting a lot of minutes as the squad looks towards their goal of promotion.
“I’m trying to get as much playing time as possible,” Garcia said. “And just continue to grow as a player and person.”
While Garcia’s focus is on the rest of the season ahead, he also has looked through the future and where the beautiful game may someday take him.
“I try not to think too far ahead, but I just love this game so much I would be open to go wherever it best suits me,” Garcia said. “For the time being I just want to grow and trust the process with FC Coras.”
No matter where his career takes him, the center back will give it his all.
“All I can really say I bring to my teams is the heart to play and work hard,” Garcia said. “Every day I wake up hungry to be better than I was the day before.”
Garcia joins dozens of NPSL alums now plying their trade outside of the U.S. It’s clearly an exciting time to be part of the East Bay FC Stompers and the NPSL’s pro pipeline.