PROVO — Big-hitting freshman Gabi Garcia Fernandez got here to BYU under ordinary circumstances, however now not as ordinary as how he first got here to the game of volleyball. Both circumstances have the 6-foot-7 Puerto Rico local swinging sturdy for the BYU males’s volleyball staff this season, serving to the Cougars as soon as once more take care of the country’s perfect.
Fernandez started his volleyball adventure through actually strolling right into a health club and ranging from scratch on the age of 13. Growing up in San Juan, Puerto Rico, he’d already turn out to be infatuated with baseball and had made strides within the recreation, enjoying for one of the most many membership groups across the island U.S. territory.
Gabriel Maybery, Courtesy BYU Athletics
But transportation issues performed a task in switching Fernandez’s center of attention from baseball to volleyball.
“I had family issues with some cars at the time and couldn’t get a ride to practices with my club team,” Fernandez stated. “It was way too far to walk, but there was a volleyball team practicing at a place I could walk to, so I just walked in one day and asked, ‘What can you do with me?'”
The resolution was once sooner or later “quite a bit” — however it did not come simple. The then 13-year-old confronted a steep studying curve, given his virtually whole inexperience enjoying the game. But given his awesome athleticism, Fernandez started emerging up the ranks.
His first trainer briefly identified his attainable, and labored him onto a higher-level membership staff.
“It was all really high level since I was about 15,” Fernandez stated. “I’ve always played against older and more experienced guys, but I got used to it and better for it. I’m so thankful that first coach saw something in me that I didn’t.”
Fernandez’s folks, Jose Garcia and Rebecca Fernandez, additionally performed a large position in his construction, making positive to toughen him in volleyball, which had turn out to be his major pursuit.
“They have always been great at encouraging me to play a lot of sports, which really helped when learning how to play volleyball,” Fernandez stated.
Fernandez briefly was a part of the Puerto Rican Youth National staff and later a part of the Junior National staff, the place he was once named an All-American 3 times.
As may well be imagined, collegiate methods started taking a large number of passion within the budding Puerto Rican big name, recruiting him quite early. Fernandez in spite of everything rested on Cal Baptist, making the verdict to sign up for the program in December 2016. He was once excited for the chance to achieve an training and the enjoy of enjoying school volleyball.
The hope of enjoying for Cal Baptist ended hastily, then again, with Fernandez receiving an alarming telephone name about part a 12 months after committing.
“They informed me that they ended their volleyball program, so yeah, it was really shocking,” Fernandez stated. “I had no idea where I could go. I had no idea if I’d get another opportunity. It was really hard to hear.”
Fernandez’s uncertainty was once short-lived, then again, as BYU contacted him the very day Cal Baptist delivered the unhealthy information.
“They called me, and then we started exchanging emails, and we started the recruiting process over again, a bit, with my mom really helping me get through it and then decide,” Fernandez stated. “I always knew about BYU because of the great Puerto Rican players that went there, so I then decided BYU was where I needed to go and it’s been the best decision.”
Former Puerto Rican avid gamers that experience starred for BYU come with Ossie Antonetti, Joaquin Acosta and Ivan Perez, amongst others. Some of them, specifically Antonetti, reached out to Fernandez and inspired him to play for BYU.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
With simply over a month long past within the 2018 season, BYU has benefited from Fernandez’s play. Named a direct starter from the primary fit, the freshman leads the staff in kills (175) and is tied for 2nd in blocks with 39.
“He’s right there with the rest of the great freshmen we’ve had here,” stated BYU trainer Shawn Olmstead. “He’s confident, and I like that a lot about him. He has an arm that rivals that of any freshmen who have come (to BYU) … He’s done a really good job with the load.”
Fernandez believes he is benefited no less than as a lot from BYU, because the program has through his play.
“It’s just super-awesome being here. Everyone is so nice and helpful in everything. That’s what I love most — the helping part. Whether it be school, volleyball or whatever, people are so willing to help. It’s been amazing,” Fernandez stated.
“I miss the warmth of Puerto Rico, and I do still miss playing baseball, but being here — things worked out for the best and I definitely believe God had his hand in all of it.”