Posted on March 7, 2023 by Amanda Cerreto

Ronnie Garza in action

Ronnie Garza in action

March 07, 2023 – UTSA offensive lineman Ronnie Garza entered the university at 18 years old – and is set to graduate only two years later with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology.

Garza grew up in Edinburg, Texas, where he played as a three-year starter at Vela High School. While there, he racked up several awards, including the McAllen Monitor All-Area Lineman of the Year. Playing football at UTSA seemed like a natural choice for Garza after his high school successes.

garza-huddle.jpg“My family and I would always come to San Antonio for vacations, and whenever we passed the Alamodome I just thought how much I’d love to play there,” Garza said. “I’ve always wanted to live in San Antonio…it always just felt like the right decision.”

Garza enrolled at UTSA as a kinesiology major – but he had a major head start. His high school partnered with South Texas College to offer students the opportunity to take dual-enrollment classes. By the time he crossed the stage with his high school diploma, Garza had already earned an associated degree in interdisciplinary studies.

That’s not to say he coasted through – on the contrary, entering UTSA as an 18-year-old and taking junior and senior level courses, all while playing Division I football – was a huge adjustment. While Garza had always been focused and structured, it was a new level of intensity for him at UTSA.

“It was a tough transition from high school, having really early mornings, to UTSA with really late nights,” Garza said. “The biggest struggle at first was actually finding time to eat. There was always so much to do and get done where it just seemed easier to put off a meal.”

It was a hurdle Garza could overcome, however, thanks to the support of his teachers and fellow students.

“I hear from people in other colleges where everyone is focused on their own things – it’s not like that at UTSA,” Garza said. “Everyone here is really friendly, even if we’re not in the same classes.”

On the academic side, Garza chose to study kinesiology because of his lifelong interest in anatomy – but his course changed slightly in high school when he tore ligaments in his knee.

reno-garza-and-land.jpeg“That made me want to pursue the sports medicine aspect of kinesiology, rather than the direct medial pathway,” Garza said. “The electives offered at UTSA have to do with nutrition or wellness, or sport psychology. Learning more about that and what my body does when I’m performing an action correlates to my life outside the classroom.” 

Although Garza is graduating this spring after two years, he has no plans to leave UTSA. He has been accepted into the Graduate School through the VIP application process, where he plans to pursue a Master of Science in Kinesiology – and continue playing football.

Garza remains grateful to his teachers for the guidance and support in the classroom as he navigated his first two years as a college student. William Land, associate professor of kinesiology, nominated him for admission to the graduate school through the VIP program. Kelley Reno, kinesiology lecturer, also had a big influence on Garza’s studies. “Ms. Reno has opened up so many doors for me, and it has been a real highlight to meet a professor like that, who genuinely helps people and cares.”

“Ronnie is not only dedicated in the classroom and on the football field, but he truly values his coaches, professors, and teammates which makes him a wonderful role model for future students and our university,” said Kelley Reno, kinesiology lecturer.  “Ronnie was a joy to have in class as he loved to participate in discussions and always showed respect to his peers. His knowledge, personality, and drive to succeed will no doubt continue to make me proud to have been one of his professors on his journey.”

Another highlight for Garza has been the unexpected solid bond he’s formed with his fellow students. “The people I’ve met – on and off the team – and my roommates are people I’m going to grow up with, and I’m going to know forever,” he said. “The bond I’ve formed with them won’t go away.”

Garza is ready to tackle his graduate level classes next year, while also representing the Roadrunners on the football team. “Being a student here is great on its own, but to represent the university on the field, to go to the Bowl games, to make lifelong friends…it’s a really great experience.”

— Amanda Cerreto