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20121204 Basketball Girls Grulla vs Mission lg-57At V.F. Neuhaus Gym Tuesday night, Mission High School honored two coaches who both retired last year after having spent 16 years working side by side as the head coach and assistant coach of the Lady Eagles basketball team, Rene G. Garza and Lucy Guerra.

As a 2006 inductee into the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame and a 2010 inductee into the Texas Girls’ Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Garza has been the architect of winning girls basketball programs at Weslaco, Mercedes and Mission. During his 16 years at Mission, the eight-time Coach of the Year won one district championship, three district runner-ups and led his team to 10 postseason appearances. With a career record of 518-298, Garza’s record while at Mission was 287-200.

Having just watched the Lady Eagles defeat the Grulla Lady Gators, Garza admitted to having mixed feelings about his decision to retire. However the fact that he was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2006 played a big part in his decision.

“I’m just getting used to the idea that I’m not coaching anymore,” said Garza. “As you know I left because of my health. It was a hard decision for me to make but I had to do what was best for me health wise and while I miss the game and being around the girls, I’m excited for them. I think that they’re in good hands with Coach Carmona and Coach Garza and I see a lot of great things happening here as the years go by.”

Garza’s faith and his love of family have helped him to fill the void left by his retirement from coaching.

“I still have a passion for the game and a passion for the girls and while there is a big void in my life at this particular time I have accepted it and I’ve put it in God’s hands. God has blessed me over and over again and now I’m spending more time with my wife, my sons and my grandkids, so it’s been good too,” shared Garza.

Having coached at Mission for 32 years, Lucy Guerra spent half of those as Garza’s assistant. Her dedication to Garza led her to retire last year as well.

“I’ve been coaching with him for 16 years,” said Guerra. “He was my mentor. It’s been a blessing for me to be under his wing. He taught me a lot about basketball. I retired when he retired. There was no way I’d be able to coach without him.”

Like Garza, Guerra is still adjusting to the fact that she’s not coaching anymore. However being honored by the only school she ever coached for was extremely gratifying.

“It means a lot to me,” said Guerra. “Just seeing the girls on the court and seeing them perform. But it’s a little hard to sit in the bleachers and see them on the court. It seems to me as if I’m still coaching, but they’re doing a great job and it’s a blessing to know that they think about us a lot.”

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