Irma Garcia

Irma Garcia

Irma Garcia

Director of Athletics St. Francis College

Throughout her past thirty-six years in sports, Irma Garcia has been
known and revered as a trailblazer in college athletics.  Named the Director of Athletics for St.
Francis College in 2007, Garcia became the first Latina to lead a NCAA Division
I athletics’ department and is one of only a few women to head a Division I
program.  Garcia’s leadership, compassion
and dedication to sports and St. Francis College have set the stage for her to
oversee ten women’s teams and nine men’s teams as the college’s Athletic
Director.  Throughout her life as a
collegiate student-athlete, coach and administrator, Garcia has touched and
inspired many and dedicated much of her time to ensuring that young women have
the resources and opportunities to blaze their own trails.

 

The Terriers enjoyed one of the finest campaigns in their history
under Garcia in 2013-2014.  She was a
driving force in securing the men’s soccer program with a beautiful new home
field at Brooklyn Bridge Park and the team rode that momentum by earning an
automatic NCAA appearance after capturing their first Northeast Conference
Championship in 15 years.  The men’s
water polo team followed up with a CWPA title and a berth in the NCAA Final
Four for the second straight year.  The
women’s basketball program turned in their best year ever by winning a
program-high 19 games and the men’s basketball squad tied an NEC record with
nine non-conference victories en route to 18 overall wins. One of those
included a historic triumph against the Miami Hurricanes in their
season-opener, the school’s first against a member of the Atlantic Coast
Conference.  This spring, the women’s
bowling team reached the NEC championship match for the first time in their
history.

 

Garcia’s student-athletes have excelled in the classroom as well
and the combined grade point average is currently a 3.20.  In 2012-2013, three Terrier squads earned NEC
Institutional Academic Awards (women’s basketball, women’s bowling, and women’s
tennis.  Additionally, the men’s water
polo squad and the women’s basketball team attained the second-highest gpa in
the country and the women’s bowling squad ranked fourth in their sport.  Men’s water polo’s David Lonnberg was the
recipient of the prestigious Elite 89 Award for the second straight year at the
Final Four this past December.

 

From 1976 – 1980, Garcia was a top student-athlete for St. Francis
as a basketball player for the college’s Hall of Fame Coach, Diane Nolan.  After graduating, Garcia started her career
as a coach for the girls’ basketball team at St. Joseph by the Sea High School
in Staten Island, New York.  In 1988,
Garcia was named the eighth women’s basketball coach in St. Francis College
history.  During Garcia’s 11-year tenure, her players and teams received
many individual and collective honors.  Under her guidance, 12 of her
women’s basketball players were honored on post-season Northeast Conference
(NEC) teams (four NEC First-Team All-Conference Players, two NEC Second-Team
All-Conference Players, five NEC All-Rookie Team Players, and one Newcomer of
the Year). Five former players were inducted into the St. Francis College’s
Hall of Fame.  Notably, Garcia’s women’s basketball teams were also among
the NCAA elite in the classroom.  Her 1998-99 team was honored by the WBCA
for having the 4th highest team grade-point-average among nearly 300
Division I women’s basketball teams in the country, and the 1997-98 team ranked
23rd in the nation in team grade-point-average.  Garcia also
coached the first St. Francis women’s basketball player recruited to play
professional basketball, Carolyn Harvey.  After the 1997-98 season, Garcia
was honored by her colleagues as the Northeast Conference Coach of the
Year. 

 

Garcia earned a master’s degree in
Sports Administration from Brooklyn College in 2001.  She is an active member of the
National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), the National Association of Collegiate Women
Athletic Administrators (NACWAA), Hispanic Association of Colleges and
Universities (HACU), the Minority Opportunities Association (MOAA), Board
member of the Public Schools Athletic League, and sits on the NCAA’S Minority
Opportunity and Interests Committee (MOIC) as well as the Ethnic Minority and
Women’s Enhancement Scholarship Committee.  She was a key speaker at last year’s NACWAA
convention in Denver.

Garcia has recently been featured as a female
pioneer in publications such as USA Today, New York Daily News, Diversity
Magazine, CAA News, and ESPN.com.  She
has also appeared on American Latino, a nationally syndicated TV show as well
as ESPN Deportes and ESPN Sports Center.


Garcia was inducted to the St. Francis
Hall of Fame in 2005 and has been the recipient of many well-deserved honors
and awards.  In May of 2012, Garcia was
honored by the Women’s Sports Foundation as a member of the 40 FOR 40 list,
which consists of 40 women who have made a significant impact on society after
playing high school or college sports during the forty years of the Title IX
era.  Brooklyn Borough
President Marty Markowitz honored Garcia in the fall of 2010 at Brooklyn’s
Borough Hall during Latin Heritage Night. 
In April of 2010, Garcia was recognized
as one of the recipients of the 2010 “Mujeres Destacadas Award” by El Diario La
Prensa, the premier publication serving New York-area Latinos.  She was the recipient of the ECAC’s 2009
Katherine Ley Award, which honors an ECAC woman athletics administrator
who exemplifies the values and characteristics displayed by Katherine Ley.  Garcia was also
honored on October 1, 2008 at the White House, in Washington, D.C., as a 2008
Las Primeras Award Recipient by MANA, a national Latina organization, for
becoming the first Latina to run an NCAA Division I athletic program.