Former McFarland runner carries high school legacy


First-year runner Veronica Garcia representing her school. Photo credit: Veronica Garcia

For first-year cross-country and track runner Veronica Garcia, the movie “McFarland, USA” (2015) is more than an inspirational sports dramatization. The story of a 1987 cross-country team put together by its coach, Jim White, happened right in her high school.

Garcia began running in kindergarten, but she did not always enjoy it.

“I didn’t begin to have a passion for the sport until I entered high school,” Garcia said.

Growing up in a small town meant that everyone was very close. The team became her second family and her own family was very supportive as well.

“My family grew up in the sport of cross-country also, so my siblings and parents were very supportive in attending all our meets,” Garcia said.

When the 1987 team put McFarland on the map, cross-country became very important. Being a part of McFarland High School meant there was a lot to live up to during valley or state championships.

“There was pressure to perform our best at both meets and with expectations to continue the streak of winning the valley title,” Garcia said. “However, our coaches always reminded us to have fun out there on the course whether we win or lose. The only thing that mattered was that we did our best and left it all out on the course.”

First-year runner Veronica Garcia competes in high school. Photo credit: SportsSwurlz


The movie was filmed in McFarland and when it was released the cross-country team began to learn more stories about their famous team. White made sure they knew what really happened and what Hollywood had added for dramatic effect.

The runners all looked forward to seeing White come out and watch their track meets.

“In high school he would show up to as many meets as he could to support our generation of runners,” Garcia said.

Throughout high school, Garcia’s coaches made sure she always kept a positive mentality and believed in herself. She brought this with her when she moved to Chico last fall.

Garcia still gets support from her hometown coaches who still keep up with her running.

“They always ask how I’m doing when I go back home to visit,” Garcia said.

The biggest challenge for Garcia was moving from her small town where she maintained a strong support group, to Chico State.

“Coming into a big cross-country team here in Chico where athletes come from bigger cities and schools can be a bit intimidating at first,” Garcia said.

She put into practice what her coaches had taught her, pushing herself every time to be the best she can while supporting her teammates along the way, helping one another reach their goals.

Esther Briggs can be reached at [email protected] or @EstherBriggs191 on Twitter.