Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

November 14, 2013

A Valiant senior class:

Part three of a in-depth look at Valwood’s 2013 senior class


Vincent Ervin II, Gabriel Garcia Jr., and George LaHood make up part three of the series:

Vincent Ervin II is a senior lineman for the Valiants. He is the only child of Vincent and Jacqueline Ervin. 

Being a lineman, his job is to protect his quarterback. That is a perfect job description given his personality away from the gridiron.

“Vincent is a big, strong kid,” Head Coach Ashley Henderson said. “But, even better, I don’t think he’s ever met a stranger. He’s always motivating and positive. He’s a great, loyal kid and a valuable piece of this team.”

Ervin’s loyalty is perfectly exhibited in his demeanor and attitude.  When asked about his best memories of his senior football season, his answer was simple.

“My teammates,” Ervin said. “I’ve made pretty strong bonds with just about everyone… I think one thing that the guys can say about me is that I make sure I treat everybody fairly.”

Ervin’s senior year is also his first year as a Valiant, having attended Lowndes High School for his previous three years.

While he has been an obvious presence during all of this season’s contests, his athletic ability extends beyond football. He is also a shot putter for the school’s track and field team.

Outside of athletics, Ervin is an active member of Valwood’s Beta Club as well as the school chorus.

 In fact, earlier in the season, Ervin and his teammate, fellow senior lineman Daniel Costello, sang the national anthem prior to some of their games.

He is grateful for his time as a Valiant and has learned many unforgettable lessons to accompany him for the rest of his life. He credits the curriculum at Valwood for helping him with time management.

“(Valwood) has helped me learn to handle pressure,” Ervin said.  “The cramped time that we have to handle assignments, on top of playing football, has taught me to handle my time better.”

As far as the future goes, Ervin’s mind is set. He has narrowed his choice of colleges to a few, including the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech. While the location remains open, he knows that he will pursue a degree in mechanical engineering.

Gabriel Garcia Jr., known to his friends and teammates as “Gabe,” is a senior kicker for the Valiants.

In his second season with the football team, his position is well-fitting given his experience in his first sport.

"I saw Gabe in the lunchroom last year in a soccer jersey,” Coach Henderson said. “I asked him if he had ever kicked a football. He said, ‘Never… but I’m willing to try’.”

Currently a member of Valwood’s Varsity soccer team, Garcia also helps coach the middle school (Junior Varsity) team at the school.

“The win streak and winning a state championship is great,” Garcia said. “They’re life-changing events. But more than anything, it’s a great feeling to see how the team has come over the years.”

As with many of his teammates, Garcia’s talents extend well beyond athletics. He plays seven different instruments, including the guitar. He was also a member of the drum line at Lowndes High School prior to coming to Valwood.

A special characteristic of Garcia is that is very helping and selfless. Aside from helping with the younger soccer players, he is a fluent Spanish speaker and helps younger students with their studies.

Garcia also understands that many of life’s valuable lessons are taught in action rather than speech. He knows that his time at Valwood will leave a positive influence on future graduates.

“It feels good to know that I can help people,” Garcia said. “I don’t look for personal credit. It’s all about doing what you can. Here (at Valwood), I love to feel like a difference-maker.”

Garcia’s talent on the soccer field is garnering him attention from Georgia-Gwinnett College (Lawrenceville, Ga.), Point University (East Point, Ga.) and Toccoa Falls College (Toccoa, Ga.). If he does not attend any of these schools, he would like to attend Mercer University (Macon, Ga.) to pursue a degree in either in architecture or public relations and advertising.

Garcia is the son of Gabriel Sr. and Marcela Garcia. He has two younger siblings, Emily and Miguel.

Senior defensive lineman George LaHood can be best described as a silent giant.

After a solid senior season, he opened the playoffs in impressive fashion. In the Valiants’ 46-7 win over Community Christian High School, LaHood recorded a safety and returned a fumble 49 yards for Valwood’s first touchdown.

“(The Community Christian game) was probably my best game of my career,” LaHood said. “It is definitely one that will stick with me.”

His outstanding performance against Community Christian may have been a wake up to some, but Coach Henderson has always had an eye for LaHood’s talent and potential.

“(George) is one the most naturally gifted and talented players on this team,” Coach Henderson said. “He’s got the willpower. When he decides he’s going to do something, there’s no stopping him.”

When he is not playing football, LaHood’s activities are simple.

“He’s always telling me hunting stories,” Coach Henderson said.  “I don’t hunt, but I can always get the scoop from him. He’s a hunter…and he loves his truck.”

Once he graduates from Valwood, LaHood plans to pursue a business degree at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Ga. 

After college, he would like to eventually take over his father’s business. His father, John, is the Administrator and overseer of the Fellowship Home, which is an assisted living facility located five miles outside of Valdosta.

LaHood appreciates his time as a Valiant and credits much of his enjoyment to the lasting relationships that he has made.

“I’ve met a lot of great people at Valwood,” LaHood said. “Coach Henderson and the rest of the staff are excellent. My time here will be something that I’ll never forget.”

“I always tell my teammates that they have to practice like it’s game time,” LaHood said. “It’s all about determination. Never take a play off.”

LaHood is the son of John and Crystal LaHood. He has one younger sister (Annie) and two younger brothers (Jack and Brown).

Text Only
Local Sports
  • Blazers to play three games on GSC-TV

    Valdosta State will play three televised games this fall, the Gulf South Conference announced Wednesday as it released its GSC-TV schedule.

    July 31, 2014

  • 2014 World Championships 216 (640x427).jpg Best of the Best

    The students of Performance Martial Arts Academy continue to rack up accolades and after a weekend in Little Rock, Ark., those accolades include the title of world champion.
    Mark Webb and Madison Swain both earned world championships at the American Taekwondo Association's Taekwondo World Championships a few weeks ago. Four other Performance Martial Arts students also competed in the event.

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • Berrien practice 1a.jpg Moving forward

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Falcons_Ryan.jpg Ryan takes teaching role for Falcons offense

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bridgestone_Tiger.jpg Woods faces 2 big weeks that shape rest of season

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0728-Lowndes practice4.jpg Vikings working out with padded practice, scrimmage on the horizon

    The look was familiar Monday at Martin Stadium.
    The Lowndes High football team’s conditioning practice was essentially a duplicate of the workouts the Vikings have completed throughout the summer.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thomasville_Ryals.jpg South Georgia special for high school coaches

    Phillip Johnson remembers when he had a “Wizard of Oz” moment.
    The North Carolina native moved to Georgia when he was 26 and Johnson, now Lanier County’s second-year head coach, recalls a 7-on-7 tournament leading to the realization that he wasn’t in Kansas — or in his case, North Carolina — anymore.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Nolin settling in as new VSU soccer coach

    Meet Rebecca Nolin, VSU's new soccer coach.

    July 28, 2014

  • Induction Crowd: Honorees were genuine, down to earth

    More than 48,000 people gathered under the scorching sun at The Clark Sports Center for the 75th National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Sunday, including one woman who carpooled to the event with more than 40 other people.

    July 28, 2014

  • Braves trio all business at inductions

    The Braves seemed almost businesslike in their approach -- something you might expect from a trio that won so consistently.
    Managers Joe Torre and Tony La Russa also remained calm and collected throughout their addresses.
    Frank Thomas took care of the emotional side, his voice breaking and his eyes moist during a heartfelt speech Sunday at the Clark Sports Center.

    July 28, 2014

Blazers Blog