Chansen Garcia never thought about Annapolis before.
Now, the Kahuku sophomore-to-be has a football scholarship offer from Navy.
“(Navy) Coach Ken (Niumatalolo) saw my video. They called Coach Sterling (Carvalho), and he called my dad. It was shocking,” Garcia said. “My dad told my mom (Urnel). I thought they were joking with me at first. She was breaking down, so I was breaking down. It brought us to tears.”
No mainland combines or camps. No varsity game video, though he was promoted from the junior varsity last year. Just constant work on the field and track.
“It just boosted my motivation and makes me want to train harder and made me believe even more,” Garcia said.
The 5-foot-8, 170-pound two-sport standout played for Kahuku’s junior varsity team last fall. His promising season on the track was cut short by the COVID-19 lockdown, but the Naval Academy was impressed. A 3.6 grade-point average with a few honors classes did not hurt.
“I’m still amazed,” said his father, Ira Casey. “I knew he worked hard, but I was shocked it happened this early. They normally don’t offer freshmen, but they liked his highlights, his speed, his hips.”
Former Hawaii player Billy Ray Stutzmann is Navy’s point man on Hawaii prospects. Stutzmann has been as aware and aggressive of island players as perhaps any Division I recruiter in this offseason.
“They said they know more colleges will come around, but remember who was the first,” Garcia’s dad said.
With nobody from their immediate family in the military, the ohana did some research. The Naval Academy requires a couple of extra years in service after graduation, but also guarantees a healthy salary.
“I’m really impressed with the Navy setting up your career. The more we look into it, we see how amazing an offer it really is,” he said.
Former Campbell running back Sky Lactaoen recently enrolled at the academy, following the footsteps of many island athletes who have thrived at Annapolis.
Garcia ran an electronically-timed 4.52 in the 40-yard dash recently. He played cornerback, safety, running and returned kicks last season. Garcia also added 15 pounds in this off-season after playing at 155 last fall.
Utah expressed interest briefly, reaching out to Garcia’s father.
“A coach contacted my dad. I haven’t been to Utah. They wanted to know my track times and see my game film,” he said.
Much of his summer is spent training with Godspeed Track Club at Waipio. Last summer, after his eighth-grade year, he ran a 10.9 in the 100-meter sprint, a time that would easily qualify Garcia for the HHSAA state championships. Also as an eighth-grader, he ran a 23.2 in the 200, and he is working on the 400 this year.
“I think it would be crazy, but it would be fun to do two sports in college,” he said.
Top 3 shows/movies
Garcia: “I don’t watch a lot (on TV or online). I like watching highlights on YouTube. Charles Woodson, Tyrann Mathieu, (the late) Sean Taylor. Woodson, his ball skills, in the air or in a (receiver’s) hands, he’s always trying to hit the ball. Tyrann, I like how savage he is at his size. His mindset, the way he plays the game, is incredible. Sean Taylor, the way he hits. That’s what I picked up, the moves, his feet and he wraps up.”
Top 3 foods
1. Burgers. “Any burgers, cheeseburgers. I like Denny’s cheeseburger deluxe with the fries.
2. BBQ. “I like southern BBQ wings. I got it in North Carolina when we visited there for a national track meet last summer. It was moist. It was delicious. They gave me 12 (wings).”
3. Ahi poke. “From Foodland or Tamura’s. The ninja something.”
Top 3 drinks
2. Gatorade (blue/berry)
3. Brisk iced tea
Garcia: “I learned paddle boarding at Bathtubs in Laie. My uncle (Mike Garcia) taught me. We been out there maybe 10 times.”
Garcia: “My family for all that they’ve done pushing me and supporting me. And I want to thank all my Pop Warner (Koolauloa Red Raiders peewee). I want to thank Coach Keala (Santiago). He’s a really good coach, and Coach Stu (Carvalho) and Coach Sterling (Carvalho). And my (track) coach, Mike Harvey for working on my speed. And (TMF) Coach Kawehena Johnson for working on my DB footwork.”