Valdosta Daily Times

November 14, 2013

A Valiant senior class:

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

James Washington
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA —

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).