Texas A&M judoka Isabella Garriga at Universiade | Athletic

Isabella Garriga of the Texas A&M Judo Team is pleased to participate in the Universiade in Chengdu, China, June 27-July 7.

In March, A&M hosts the National Collegiate Judo Association or NCJA Championships. A&M Judo black belt Isabella Garriga has qualified for the Universiade. This world-class event hosts multiple sports for athletes between the ages of 18 and 26. 2022 will be the 31st Summer Universiade.

Garriga said she was selected last year for the 2021 IJF Junior World Judo Championships in Italy, her first competition at a world stadium. The Universiade is broader and older than the Junior World Games, which Garriga says are more akin to the Olympics. She explained that Olympic athletes are expected to participate in this competition.

“this [World University] The Olympics are really the college Olympics,” Garriga said.

Garriga said the competition will help her progress and improve in the judo world, which she has always dreamed of going to.

“It’s an honor to know that I can represent A&M and my country, and it’s exciting to do my favorite sport,” Garriga said.

A&M judo brown belt Rylie Knight describes Garriga as loyal, hardworking, energetic and fun.

“While doing all this, she was on top of the full-time program and her major, at least 3 times a week, on top of the countries she traveled abroad,” Knight said.

Garriga is a strong contender, with great technique, throwing unexpected moves and often knowing where his opponent’s weight is, Knight said.

“Seeing her fight was very intense,” Knight said.

A&M judo brown belt Rodrigo Jimenez Moya described Garriga’s game as exciting. He said it was difficult to look away when she fought.

“It’s like watching a movie — it’s always exciting,” Moya said.

Garriga is a supportive teammate and willing to help, said brown belt Ren Uyehara.

“She wants you to be the best judo player, and she will do whatever she can to help you achieve your goals,” Uyehara said.

In the Nationals, Garriga kept everyone on the edge of their seats, Uyehara said. He said she had many throws – one after the other – and if she ran out, she would repeat them until she got that big throw.

“She never gave up, which shows because it put her in a big game that we had to watch from a distance,” Uyehara said.

Garriga said she grew up in judo but took a break in high school to compete in swimming. When she arrived at A&M, she re-entered judo.

“When the game started, I hadn’t played in nearly five years, and it was a national game,” Garriga said. “I feel like I have to prove something because I’ve been away for so long.”

Garriga said she was remembered because her father was still traveling and competing in judo. She must prove she is still a strong competitor and qualify for the Pan American Judo Championships. When she won her last bout and entered the national rankings, it was clear that she was officially back in judo.

“[It was] It was one of the most memorable games I’ve ever played,” Garriga said.

Garriga said being a student-athlete and traveling is hard, but college is no different because she’s always been a student-athlete. Discipline and time management are critical, she said.

“I used to be stressed out, but it took a lot of discipline,” Garriga said. “I try my best to manage it.”

Because judo is not prominent in the U.S., travel is difficult, Garriga said. The NCJA created a GoFundMe to help athletes pay for this year’s Universiade. A&M teams often donate to fund their trips.

“I’m lucky that they can donate because it means they believe in my future,” Garriga said.

Judo is a sport unlike any other martial art, Garriga said. Judo is often mistaken for Jiu-Jitsu and Karate. Garriga said that while judo has some things in common with jiu-jitsu and karate, judo is not based on those arts.

“Judo means ‘the gentle way,'” Garriga said. “It should be a technical way to use someone’s strengths against one’s own, not just a terrible tackle.”

At the NJCA Championship in March, A&M’s men’s team took first place and the women’s team second. Garriga personally won the Female Athlete of the Year award, which is voted on by various college coaches, Garriga said. She said it was an honor to receive the award, especially since this is her first year as a collegiate judo player.

“It was an honor to know those coaches saw me,” Garriga said.

Upcoming Judo US Senior Nationals on May 21st and May 22nd at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Florida.

“The higher levels are there,” Garriga said. “It’s the international team.”

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