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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M judo’s Isabella Garriga headed to World University Games

Photo courtesy of Javier Garriga

Isabella Garriga holding the Female Athlete of the Year Award and an NCJA medal. On June 27th through July 2nd, Garriga will be competing at the World University Games in Chengdu, China.

Texas A&M judo’s Isabella Garriga is excited to compete at the World University Games June 27 through July 7 in Chengdu, China.
In March, A&M hosted the National Collegiate Judo Association, or NCJA, Championships. A&M judo team’s black belt Isabella Garriga qualified for the World University Games. The world-class event hosts several sports for athletes ages 18 to 26. 2022 will be the 31st Summer World University Games.
Garriga said that she was chosen to compete in Italy’s 2021 International Judo Federation Junior World Judo Championships last year, her first competition in a world stadium. The World University Games are more extensive and older than the Junior Worlds, and Garriga said they more closely resemble the Olympics. She explained that athletes who are projected to compete in the Olympics go to this competition.
“The [World University] Games is practically the college Olympics,” Garriga said.
Garriga said that the competition would help her improve and move up in the judo world, and she has always dreamed of going.
“Just knowing I get to represent A&M and my country is an honor, and doing the sport I love the most is exciting,” Garriga said.
A&M judo brown belt Rylie Knight described Garriga as loyal, hardworking, energetic and fun.
“She is there at least three times a week on top of full-time classes and her major, on top of traveling countries abroad while doing all this,” Knight said.
Garriga is a strong competitor, has excellent techniques, throws unexpected moves and tends to know where her opponent’s weight is, Knight said.
“Seeing her fight is pretty intense,” Knight said.
A&M judo brown belt Rodrigo Jimenez Moya described Garriga’s matches as exhilarating. It is hard to look away when she fights, he said.
“It’s like watching a movie — always thrilling,” Moya said.
Garriga is a supportive teammate and willing to help, brown belt Ren Uyehara said.
“She wants you to be the best judo you can be, and she’s gonna do whatever she can to help you achieve your goals,” Uyehara said.
At nationals, Garriga had everybody on the edge of their seat, Uyehara said. She hasmany throws ­— one after the other — and if she runs out, she repeats them until she gets that big throw, he said.
“She never quits, and it shows because it has gotten her to such a big competition where we have to watch from afar,” Uyehara said.
Garriga said she grew up in judo but took a break in high school to compete in swimming. She reentered judo when she got to A&M.
“When competition started up, I hadn’t competed in almost five years, and it was a national competition,” Garriga said. “I felt like I had to prove something because I was gone for so long.”
People remembered her since her dad still traveled and competed in judo, Garriga said. She had to prove she was still a great competitor and qualify for Pan American Judo Championships. When she won the last match and got on the national ranking, it was clear she was officially back in judo.
“[It was] one of the most memorable competitions I’ve had,” Garriga said.
It is tough being a student-athlete and traveling, Garriga said, but college was no different since she has always been a student-athlete. Discipline and time management are essential, she said.
“I’ve stressed out before, but it takes a lot of discipline,” Garriga said. “I try my hardest to manage.”
Since judo is not prominent in the U.S., traveling is difficult, Garriga said. The NCJA has created a GoFundMe to help athletes with their expenses for the World University Games this year. The A&M team usually makes donations to fund their travels.
“I’m so blessed for them to donate because that means they believe in my future,” Garriga said.
Judo is a sport unlike other martial arts, Garriga said. People often mistake judo for jujitsu and karate. Though judo shares some moves with jujitsu and karate, judo is not based on these arts, Garriga said.
“Judo means ‘the gentle way,’” Garriga said. “It’s supposed to be a technical way to use someone’s strengths against their own, not just a gruesome tackle to the ground.”
At the NJCA Championships in March, A&M’s men’s team won firstand the women’s team won second. Individually, Garriga won the Best Female Athlete of the Year award, an award voted on by various university coaches, Garriga said. She said it was an honor to receive that award, especially since it was her first full year as a collegiate judo athlete.
“Just knowing those coaches saw me was an honor,” Garriga said.
Coming up is the judo USA Senior Nationals at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Fla., May 21 and May 22.
“The higher ranks are there,” Garriga said. “It’s the internationals.”

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