At the ripe old age of 10, Kathy Garcia is a seasoned softballer. As she ran through a series of conditioning drills Tuesday at Jefferson High, it’s easy to see why she has big supporters.
"One of the hardest workers I've seen," said coach Joe Flynn. "She's not dogging it at all."
Following in the steps of a mom who played for the Puerto Rican team in the Olympics, she's a dynamo driven to play.
"She loves it," enthused Eve Garcia Soto. "She has passion for it."
But as of Tuesday, while her all-star teammates from the Citrus Park Little League are looking forward to their sectionals next week, she'll be on the bench.
"I still wanna get her to play the next tournament,” said Steve Mayes, has been a coach with the Citrus Park Little League for more than two decades.
He told me that it was his mistake on a form – forgetting to check ONE box – that has left Kathy on the sidelines. And he's tried to appeal.
We listened in on a short, yet unproductive, call placed to the Little League Southeast Region offices in Warner-Robbins, Ga. The bottom line: The decision has been made.
"That's the problem, there's no one to talk to," he said, shaking his head. "You get to Southern Region and it stops there."
Meantime Kathy has been playing on other squads that aren't governed with such an eye for detail, and working out, because she's not a quitter.
"It's a lesson for me because like my mom is teaching me to be humble, so I have to be humble and still go to the games with my team," she said.
In a room full of big guys and, yes, even reporters, maxing out on their squats, this is a sort of metaphor for life. It's not about falling, it's about how you get back up.
"So this is an important life lesson for you isn’t it?" I asked.
"Yes,” she said.
Benched by bureaucracy or not, she's already a champ.