In honor of this month’s Alumni Reunion Weekend, Grant Garcia, ’06, GB’09, shares his continued post-graduate connection to the University of Richmond.
Garcia currently resides in New York City and recently began a new position as a director with Amherst Pierpont Securities. He is engaged to fellow Richmond graduate Marie DeForest, ’05, L’08, and the two are to be married this fall. Garcia grew up in Lancaster, Pa., and was attracted to Richmond for the small class sizes and top academics. “I felt Richmond was a place where I could be very involved in the community, get an excellent business education and play hockey on a competitive team,” he explained. He joined the club ice hockey club team and many of his current friends, including the best man in his upcoming wedding, Scott Celander, '06, were made during this time.
The hockey team reached the ACHA National Tournament two years in a row while Garcia was a member of the team. Having the opportunity to travel to Arizona State University to play with such a talented group of players was a top accomplishment for Garcia and the UR hockey program.
During his time as an undergrad, he took a negotiations course taught by Dr. Richard Coughlan, associate professor of management and former Richmond MBA director. The class was open to graduate and undergraduate students, which provided Garcia a glimpse into the program and an important mentor in Coughlan. “The MBA program is nationally recognized, and I had excellent support from the faculty and alumni mentors. I wanted to work in sales and trading on Wall Street and the MBA program helped get me there,” Garcia reflected.
A few years after graduating, Garcia, Tom Occhino, ’06, and several other alumni wanted to find an opportunity to compete on the ice with an all Richmond team again. Occhino discovered that USA Hockey hosts several adult tournaments around the country and chose Las Vegas as an exciting destination for an annual team reunion.
Since 2011, the University of Richmond alumni hockey team has traveled during the first weekend in May to compete in the USA Hockey tournament. All of the players skated on the club ice hockey team, and most played at a highly competitive level of junior, high school or prep school hockey as well. The team is comprised of 22 Richmond graduates spanning from 2004 to 2013, with Occhino as a player-coach.
Alumni fly from all over the world to attend this tournament. The planning begins more than nine months in advance with the help of team manager, photographer and Las Vegas resident, Kerry Sallee, ’06. The team shows their Spider pride with multiple sets of uniforms, including University of Richmond alumni jerseys.
They have won the tournament four of the six years and reached to the finals in the other two years. Given their success, the team entered another USA Hockey tournament in Nashville in the fall of 2015 and had a special opportunity to play in the Bridgestone Arena, home of the Nashville Predators, for a final game.
In conjunction with the University of Richmond sports club program, the group also hosts a reunion every winter in Richmond. The turnout has been very strong, with more than 50 alumni attending in the past. The day begins with a luncheon, followed by a draft and ends with an alumni game at the teams' home rink, the Richmond Ice Zone.
Aside from his annual gatherings with his alumni ice hockey family, Garcia served as a committee member and attended this year’s Alumni Reunion Weekend. About 200 alumni from 2006 traveled back to campus to reconnect.
Garcia and his fellow alumni teammates have created a unique bond that he cannot imagine his life without. “The UR alumni hockey team is an essential part of my life. The friendships we have made will last a lifetime and I am grateful to be part of this team. I think I can speak for every hockey alumnus when I say UR Hockey is for life”.