The Heart Work Behind Athletics

For Athletic Director Jeaney Garcia, it’s all about the kids.

Department: Athletics

One year ago, Jeaney Garcia took the reins as Punahou athletic director, overseeing 300 coaches and 116 teams in 21 sports. Inheriting a department that had already experienced dynamic success, 2010 proved to be another remarkable year. Punahou captured 17 state championships, five second-place finishes, 25 ILH championships and set a national record for winning 10 state championships in 10 days.

Always exhibiting her signature spirited style, Garcia continues a high level of commitment to coaches and students. From participating in faculty basketball nights, running with the girls cross country team, and accompanying the girls water polo players to UCLA’s new aquatic center, Garcia’s dedication to school sports is her driving force. “Just showing support to the people who are involved in the program … I don’t think I can do that enough,” she said.

One way Garcia has shown support is by helping to strengthen a program based on character, positive reinforcement and strong sportsmanship. In addition to the strength-and conditioning clinic and a successful college-recruiting workshop for parents, Garcia is proud that Positive Coaching Alliance certification is now mandatory for all coaches. As a former Los Angeles coordinator for the PCA, Garcia knows firsthand how successful certification is in training coaches to effectively communicate with their athletes. She views the education as, “more tools in the toolbox” for an already devoted and knowledgeable coaching staff. “It’s hard to come up with new ways to be better because our coaches are so magnificent!”

The PCA approach has helped project “an image of respect for everything involved in the game – the officials, the participants, the opponents, the other coaches, the fans,” said Garcia, who also points out that the benefits of PCA ultimately trickle down to students, who tend to mirror adult behavior.

Student-athletes also are tapping into one of Punahou’s initiatives – public service. After suggesting to coaches that teams consider service learning projects, Garcia was amazed with the outcome. “Every single team participated! Community service wasn’t required, but I wanted the idea of giving back to really hit home,” she said.

Working with the Luke Center for Public Service, coaches paired their teams with nonprofit organizations. Several teams, including softball and soccer, supported Adopt-a-Family, a local program that provides necessities for families in need. The tennis team volunteered at Special Olympics; and the Saturday before state championships, the boys varsity volleyball team conducted a stream cleanup in Kalihi.

One year after familiarizing herself with Punahou’s student athletes, Garcia admits she is in awe of their courage and grace. “It’s all the hard work – no, the heart work – from the kids and coaches that makes me proud,” she said.

Developing students’ potential is always at the top of Garcia’s to-do list. Her hope is that all students are reminded of something bigger than themselves, and cites humility, selflessness and teamwork as key benchmarks of student-athlete success.

“By keeping them balanced, you keep them grounded,” she says.


  • Submitted by Kate Paine '62

    8/18/2013 1:20:17 AM

    Another feather in Garcia's cap is going with Assistant Coach Tanya (Fuamotu-Anderson) with Balding (Peter) on sabbatical. After watching them take the Ann Kang Tourney today I can say with great enthusiasm that she is perfectly placed in this coaching position. The girls are unfettered to be the best they can be with just the right amount of support and guidance. Looking forward to a rewarding season against formidable opponents: win or lose, they are going to have the best coaching available to girls in volleyball!!

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