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Thursday, 17 January 2013 10:45

Music and Athletics Provide Dreams

BALDWIN CITY, Kan. – Baker students are known for their involvement and for their passion in whatever they decide to pursue. So, it is no surprise when you find one student that has more than one focus and can simply say, "I have two dreams."

For junior women's basketball player BriAnna Garza and men's basketball graduate assistant coach Connor Bechard, both take their athletics seriously but like to spend what little down time they have being creative with their musical talents.

From a social media trend with New Music Fridays and a show at a local restaurant, both students take pride in their athletic talents, but have a special passion that has followed them for years.

Garza has been in the gym all her life. Her Dad was a coach and she remembers from a young age playing pick up basketball and grew up around the sport she loves.

"I was always a little gym rat," Garza said. "I basically lived in the gym and fell in love with the sport."

Garza is a transfer student from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M and led NEO to the Region II Conference Championship and the National NJCAA Sweet 16. She is a starter for the Wildcats and leads the team with 56 assists overall this season.

Her musical talents began in the sixth grade when she witnessed a private drum lesson outside of her middle school.

"Seeing the lesson was so intriguing and I just sat and watched," Garza said. "I knew I wanted to pick up that skill and play the drums."

Garza began taking lessons and eventually participated in her high school band, and along the way picked up a love for playing the guitar. She began playing the guitar her junior year of high school and has been playing it ever since.

"I have been featured on two of my friends' songs on a mix tape they put together, but my biggest accomplishment in music will be the cover song I am doing for an independent film maker," Garza said. "I put out an ad on Craigslist to book shows and the film maker contacted me; I couldn't be more excited."

It's not hard for Garza to mix both of her passions and she knows that both take discipline to become successful.

"It all comes down to discipline for both of them," Garza said. "In basketball you have to be mentally tough to overcome the physical trials and in music, it's like reading a whole different language, learning your parts and getting them down into muscle memory. They are both extremely focused around discipline."

Bechard, a 2012 Baker alum, has a similar story to Garza. He grew up around sports, with his dad being a coach, and played multiple sports throughout his childhood.

"I have been around sports all my life," Bechard said. "I remember one time when I was young, my best friend and I were at one of my Dad's practices and began to shoot around. I enjoyed it so much, that I just kept going to those practices and couldn't be around the sport enough."

Bechard played all five years of his college career at Baker, red shirting his freshman year. His career has been quite a journey for him and he was fortunate enough to be part of the 2011-12 team that advanced to the NAIA Men's Basketball National Championship tournament in Kansas City, Mo., marking the first Baker team to qualify for the national tournament since 1941.

He chose basketball to play in college because of his dream to coach at a college level after graduation. He thought that playing a sport with which he wanted to coach would be beneficial.

His musical career started on a whim when he was randomly singing "All Star" by Smash Mouth and his parents saw then that he had talent.

"It was so embarrassing," Bechard said. "After the first time singing it, my parents made me sing it for anyone that came over."

His Dad encouraged him to participate in choir in middle school, but it wasn't long until he found his passion for singing.

He joined the band Static 210 and has started a social media trend with the band, by posting a cover song on Twitter each Friday, calling it "New Music Friday's."

Static 210 has also played at the Tumbleweed in Gardner, Kan., showcasing their talent and Bechard produced a solo CD, "The EP" for all his listeners.

"Everyone was asking, where to get my songs," Bechard said. "So I thought a CD would be a hard project, but something that would spread my music out even more, giving everyone a way to hear it."

With his musical and coaching career setting off, he is happy to say he has two dreams; two things he would never give up doing. He states that each have fed off each other and have helped him grow to know that whatever effort you put into it, is what you will get out of it.

"Well...I have two dreams," Bechard said. "One of them is to make music that I hope people enjoy and two, is to be a head basketball coach at the collegiate level. I am doing both of them right now, so I'm okay with that."



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