Rachel Garcia is no stranger to delayed gratification.
So Tuesday’s formal announcement of the postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo was no particular jolt.
A devastating knee injury in her final high school game put the Highland High legend’s hopes and dreams on pause.
It also gave the UCLA star some powerful perspective.
“It was the right thing to do,” Garcia said Tuesday. “Health and safety have to come first. Plus, we’re still going to get to compete.”
Garcia pitched America’s Team to the victory that qualified them for the Olympics in the summer of 2018.
For good measure, she also drove in the winning run.
It was a portent of her amazing 2019 campaign with the Bruins when Garcia became just the fourth player in NCAA history to be Player of the Year and win the Women’s College World Series in the same season.
“She’s certainly dealt with disappointments in her softball career,” said Mrs. Chris Garcia, Rachel’s mother. “When she got hurt, there was doubt whether she would ever be the same player she was at Highland.
“The way she handled it, the way she worked and persevered, it made her an even better player. It made her a better person, too.”
Garcia recently underwent her fourth surgery on that injured left knee for meniscus repair.
She was commuting twice weekly to Westwood for rehab, and spending two other days per week undergoing treatment in the Valley, before the Coronavirus hit.
“If anything, the delay will give her more time to recover and be at full strength,” Chris Garcia said.
The major unknown now concerns Rachel’s redshirt senior season at UCLA, which was scheduled for 2021.
The 2019 Honda Cup Player of the Year took a leave of absence this academic year to focus entirely on the national team.
With indications that USA Softball will keep the current team intact, scheduling and logistics could get tricky on what figured to be senior season of celebration at UCLA.
“For now, I get to spend a lot of quality time with my daughter,” said Mrs. Garcia. “I hope every family has been doing that.”