Rachel Garcia Repeats as Winner of the Honda Cup
NEW YORK CITY - Senior Rachel Garcia made history on Monday, as she was named the back-to-back winner of the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year Award and the prestigious Honda Cup, as announced during a televised ceremony at the CBS Studios.
Garcia, a three-time winner of the Honda Sport Award for Softball, is just the third student-athlete ever to be named a two-time winner of the Honda Cup, joining Connecticut women's basketball player Maya Moore (2010 and 2011) and Florida swimmer Tracy Caulkins (1982 and 1984). Garcia and Moore are the only two to go back-to-back, as the award was not given out in 2020. Garcia is also the first to win the award outright twice, as Moore tied for the win in 2010 and Caulkins tied in 1984.
"I am honored and blessed to be receiving the prestigious Honda Cup Award," Garcia said. "I want to recognize all of the finalists, including my fellow Top Three, Madison Lilley and Anastasia Webb. I am humbled for the recognition I have received after a year of challenges and uncertainty and I am very sure that every other nominee was as capable, if not more, of winning this award. None of this has been possible without the inspiration I have received from my fellow teammates, coaches and staff for whom I have the deepest respect, and from whom I have gained the strength to challenge myself and perform better at each stage. I sincerely thank each and every one of you for helping me get to the place where I can proudly hold up this award as a final mark of my achievement as a Bruin. Thank you!"
Garcia was already one of five UCLA athletes across all sports to have won the Honda Cup, joining softball players Lisa Fernandez (1993) and Natasha Watley (2003), Bruin basketball standout Ann Meyers (1978) and track and field star Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1985). Garcia joined four-time winner Fernandez (1990-1993) as the only Bruin softball players to earn at least three Honda Sport Awards for Softball. Garcia and Fernandez are two of seven UCLA softball players to win the Honda Award for Softball (Natasha Watley, 2003; Jennifer Brundage, 1995; Janice Parks, 1989; Lisa Longaker, 1988; Debbie Doom, 1984).
Garcia, along with Sarah Bacon (Minnesota diving), Mercy Chelangat (Alabama cross country), Anna Cockrell (USC track and field), Sara Daavettila (North Carolina tennis), Rachel Heck (Stanford golf), Madison Lilley (Kentucky volleyball), Alex Loera (Santa Clara soccer), Erin Matson (North Carolina field hockey), Charlotte North (Boston College lacrosse), NaLyssa Smith (Baylor basketball) and Anastasia Webb (Oklahoma gymnastics), were the 12 finalists for the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year. During the broadcast, Garcia, Lilley and Webb were named Top Three finalists, which were selected by a voting panel of nearly 1,000 NCAA-member schools. The Honda Cup winner was chosen by the Board of Directors of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards program.
Garcia earned numerous awards in her senior season, including NFCA First Team All-American and All-Region, Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year and All-Pac-12 First Team, Senior CLASS Award winner and Top 3 finalist for USA Softball POY. She went 18-3 with a 1.39 earned run average and 183 strikeouts in 136 1/3 innings, while adding a .342 batting average, 13 home runs and 35 runs batted in.
The senior, who will be going for gold with Team USA Softball next month in Tokyo, appeared in 29 games, making 18 starts. She posted 12 complete games, seven solo shutouts and two saves, limiting opponents to a .183 batting average. At the plate, Garcia had a team-best .708 slugging percentage and .473 on base percentage, was second with 30 walks, third in average and tied for third in homers. A three-time Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week and two-time Pac-12 Player of the Week, Garcia allowed zero or one earned run in 25 of her 29 appearances, reaching double figures in strikeouts seven times. She pitched the second no-hitter of her career on April 16 at Oregon State. At the plate, she had hits in 34 of her 45 games.
The CWSA, celebrating its 45th anniversary year, has honored the nation's top NCAA women athletes for their superior athletic skills, leadership, academic excellence and eagerness to participate in community service. Since commencing its partnership in 1986, Honda has provided more than $3.4 million in institutional grants to the universities of the award winners and nominees to support women's athletics programs.