Emily Garcia had a serious face on the softball field, but was always quick to smile.
The 16-year-old Bellevue girl died Saturday from a pulmonary embolism, her parents Perry and Pandy Garcia said.
“She was the light of our lives,” Emily’s mother said.
Emily would have started her junior year this fall at Bellevue East High School, where she was a two-year varsity starter for the softball team.
“If she wasn’t playing softball she was thinking about it,” said Bellevue East softball head coach Tom Horton. “If she wasn’t thinking about it, she was dreaming about it.”
Horton recalled when Emily hit her first home run last summer at an away game against Omaha South High School.
“She was so excited, and she started running around the bases with arms stretched out like an airplane,” Horton said.
Emily began playing softball at age 5. She eventually played softball for the Bellevue Shockers.
Emily had a unique sense of humor that words couldn’t describe, Horton said. She also kept a ready handful of one-liners.
“She had a great personality,” he said. “She had a unique sense of humor that the team always loved.”
Pandy Garcia said she and her daughter often would see movies together. Emily also enjoyed fishing, shooting and video games.
Perry Garcia said his daughter was fearless, especially when she rode an all-terrain vehicle when the family lived in Wyoming.
But it was when Emily was introduced to softball that her parents realized she had a true passion in the sport.
“It lit a fire in her,” Emily’s father said. “You could see she was a competitive athlete.”
In addition to her parents, other survivors include brothers Matthew and Adam Garcia; grandparents Albert and Ginny Zuege and Frances Blacker; great-grandmothers Sophia Zuege and Patsy Bryan; and her puppy Sasha.
Services are at 2 p.m. Thursday at Thanksgiving! Lutheran Church, 3702 S. 370 Plaza. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the Bellevue East High School softball program.
Bellevue East has counselsors available to any student who requests support.