5 Questions with... ABC 7 News' John Garcia

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5 Questions with... ABC 7 News' John Garcia

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

By Jeff Nuich
CSN Chicago Senior Director of CommunicationsCSNChicago.com Contributor

Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? CSNChicago.com has your fix as we put the citys most popular personalities on the spot with everyones favorite weekly local celeb feature entitled 5 Questions with...

Every Wednesday exclusively on CSNChicago.com, its our turn to grill the local media and other local VIPs with five random sports and non-sports related questions that will definitely be of interest to old and new fans alike.

This weeks guest one of the top news reporters on the local television scene whose passion and dedication to his craft is second to none speaking of passion and dedication, hes also a avid marathon runner who can be seen participating in almost every local race out there, including the Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon on Aug. 1 from ABC 7 News, here are 5 Questions with JOHN GARCIA!

BIO: John Garcia is a general assignment reporter for ABC 7 News. He joined ABC 7 News in 1994 and served as co-anchor of ABC 7 Sunday Morning News from 1995-97.

Garcia came to ABC 7 from KSAT-TV, the ABC station in San Antonio, Texas, where he co-anchored the morning and noon newscasts (1994). Previously, he worked as a reporter and fill-in anchor at KXAS-TV in Dallas (1991-94).

From 1988-91, Garcia served as a reporter and fill-in anchor at KOAT-TV in Albuquerque, N.M. Earlier in his career, he was a reporter and weekend anchor at KMID-TV in Midland, Texas (1987-88) and a reporter at KITV-TV in Sioux City, Iowa (1986-87).

Garcia has been honored with numerous awards, including the 1999 Drake University Young Alumni Achievement Award. He won recognition from the Associated Press with their award for Best Series and received Best Spot News honors from the Northwest Broadcasters Association (1986-87). He also won the Dallas Katie Award for spot news in 1993.

Garcia is active on the boards of the South Chicago Mexican-American Patriotic Club and the American Lung Association and serves as the president of the Drake University Journalism National Alumni Board. He is a member of the Chicago Association of Hispanic Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. An avid runner, Garcia has completed seven marathons, including the Chicago Marathon. Click here to check out his "Running News Guy" Blog.

Garcia is a Chicago native and earned his B.A. degree in Broadcast Journalism in 1986 from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. He is married and resides on the North Side of Chicago.

1) CSNChicago.com: John, youve enjoyed solid success as one of the citys top news reporters for ABC 7 for a number of years now. However, in a market this size, you obviously have plenty of competition out there from your fellow reporters at other stations who are also trying to break stories and provide viewers with the most detailed updates available at that particular moment. What would you say is your biggest daily challenge in your line of work and how do you differentiate yourself from your competition?

Garcia: The biggest challenge I face every day is to be ready for anything. I might have a story Ive been developing for weeks and its set to air on a given night, then that evening there is a major fire and we have to drop everything and run to that story instead. I enjoy the fact that you never know what your day is going to bring when you go to work. That said, I try to differentiate myself from my friends at the other stations by working a little harder on getting facts and sources they may not have gotten. I also really enjoy storytelling. I think the right combination of writing and video make television a compelling way to help viewers experience the news in a way they could not get in newspapers or radio.

2) CSNChicago.com: As someone who gets the opportunity to cover many fascinating stories about our city, it has to be extremely difficult reporting on the unfortunately too-common violent deaths of youths in our city. Is it tough to keep your emotions in check when you have to report on yet another tragic homicide and does it ever get to you emotionally off-camera on how sad this ongoing, tragic problem really is in our city?

Garcia: Its sad. You have to be professional and work to get the story right. If you do your job right, viewers at home will have a better understanding of just how sad many of these incidents are and hopefully be moved to become part of the solution. I find myself especially moved by stories that involve children. Since our oldest was born five years ago, I relate to these stories in a much more personal way.

3) CSNChicago.com: Whats the most memorable sporting event youve ever attended in Chicago?

Garcia: Thats a tough one. Having grown up in Chicago as a huge sports fan, I feel really blessed to have covered most every major sports event in the area for the last 16 years. Ive covered fans at the Super Bowl, the NBA finals and, most recently, the Stanley Cup. But probably the most memorable was the White Sox World Series championship. I was on the field talking to fans, players and rock stars (Steve Perry) right after the Sox won the Series in Houston. I was told later that I seemed to have a perpetual smile on my face on the air. It was just so much fun. And, truth be told, I grew up a Cubs fan. Im hoping I dont have to go my whole career without getting to experience a World Series on the North Side!

4) CSNChicago.com: In your opinion, whos the funniest on-camera talent at ABC 7 that viewers at home would never guess can bring out laughter to your colleagues on a regular basis?

Garcia: Paul Meincke is probably the guy we all respect the most as a great writer, reporter and journalist. Hes also a leader in the newsroom and a go-to guy whenever there is a big story. Hes also one of the funniest guys you will ever meet. He has a dry, ironic, sense of humor and draws an audience in the newsroom whenever he tells stories. He also is famous for writing and reciting limericks about various people and events hes covered for more than a quarter century in Chicago.

5) CSNChicago.com: It was mentioned earlier about your dedicated passion for running, particularly in marathons. How did your interest in running come about and whats your personal best marathon finish time to date?

Garcia: I grew up playing all sports, but in high school I eventually narrowed it down to track, because that was where I had the most success. I ran track and cross country in college as a walk-on, and really enjoyed the opportunity. But running eventually grew into my release from the pressures of work and family. The marathon is a real challenge, and training for it requires discipline in order to fit all the workouts into your schedule. Ive run 3:19 twice, which is not a great time, but was enough to qualify for the Boston marathon after I turned 40. My current focus, however is on the half marathon. Im really excited about running the Rock-N-Roll Chicago Half Marathon on Aug. 1. Its a more manageable distance and lots of fun, with bands playing every mile and a big concert featuring Five For Fighting at the end.

BONUS QUESTION CSNChicago.com: Anything you want to plug, John? Tell us CSNChicago.com readers want to hear about it.

Garcia: The Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon is full, but you can still get in by joining the American Cancer Societys charity program DetermiNation.

By joining the American Cancer Societys DetermiNation program, runners and walkers can dedicate their training and participation in the event to the fight against cancer. Members of the DetermiNation endurance program receive special benefits leading up to and the day of the "Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon," including free team training, elite race-weekend VIP amenities (including a concert on the Friday before the race with Uncle Kracker!), invitations to exclusive social events and online tools needed to make achieving fundraising goals easy and fun.

I hosted a fundraiser after running the Boston Marathon last year and raised over 2,000 for MAB Community Services and I was surprised at how easy fundraising is. I encourage you to try running for a great cause like ACS and enjoy all the benefits of running with a charity team.

Garcia LINKS:

ABC 7 News home page

John Garcias Running News Guy blog

John Garcia on Facebook

Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon home page

American Cancer Societys DetermiNation site

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Yanic Perreault came onto the ice as the Blackhawks wrapped up practice on Thursday.

It’s been a relatively common sight the last few seasons. Most of the time, Perreault has helped out when a particular player is struggling from the faceoff dot. That was true with Artem Anisimov earlier this season. But with Jonathan Toews sidelined the Blackhawks have been even more focused on improving upon and winning faceoffs. Thanks to the extra diligence, they’ve done that.

The Blackhawks’ overall faceoff performance has steadily improved. They’ll see how it goes again on Friday night when they face the New York Rangers, their eighth consecutive game without Toews.

“We’re working almost every practice and trying to get better on faceoffs,” Anisimov said on Thursday. “If we win the faceoff, we start with the puck and it’s pretty good. You can go to the offensive zone or win in the offensive zone you start with the puck and you have the opportunity to shoot the puck all day and get chances. It’s a big part of the game.”

Enter Perreault, who was a great faceoff man during his NHL career. The Blackhawks players say Perreault offers a wealth of information in each session.

“It’s different every day. The whole science behind it, he’s been great since he was brought in,” Marcus Kruger said. “He always has something new he wants us to work on, whether it’s just timing or body-positioning or something like that. It’s a lot of different stuff and we work on new stuff every day.”

Rasmussen agreed.

“It’s a lot of things you can work on,” he said. “You try to work on being in a low position so you get stronger. [There are] a lot of small things on how you can go against other guys that do it certain way, and you have to find your own way, too.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Their first game without Toews, against the Anaheim Ducks, was dismal. Part of that is the Ducks having some tremendous face-off guys. But Toews is the Blackhawks’ best at the dot – he’s won 60.3 percent of the time this season – so that first game without him was rough.

Here’s how things have progressed for the Blackhawks, with faceoffs won and lost and percentage, in Toews’ absence.

Opponent Wins-Losses Percent
Ducks 18-49 27 percent
Kings 21-37 36 percent
Panthers 39-35 53 percent
Devils 22-27 45 percent
Flyers 22-31 42 percent
Jets 31-27 53 percent
Coyotes 30-28 52 percent

So yes, there’s been improvement.

“I think we hold our own,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Yan works well with our center men, they take pride in trying to be the best they can and now they’re taking some important faceoffs and some they probably haven’t taken in the past, whether they’re defensive or special-teams faceoffs. They’ve all won some important faceoffs for us at key times, too.”

The Blackhawks have done their best filling the void left by Toews, especially on faceoffs. There’s been a lot of work put into it, especially with Perreault following practices. But the results have been there.

“We know we’d like to start with the puck, and we had a couple of tough games when Jonny went down initially,” Quenneville said. “But it’s been much better since.”

High School Lites Week 2 basketball capsules

High School Lites Week 2 basketball capsules

CSN Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school basketball games across Chicagoland for another basketball edition of High School Lites. Catch the show live at 11 p.m. Friday on CSN and streaming at CSNChicago.com

The show will feature numerous teams in the CSN Preps Power Rankings. The best game on Friday night could be No. 16 Benet traveling to No. 15 Notre Dame in a clash of unbeatens in the ESCC but there will be plenty of other highlights to check for.

The Red-West, North Suburban and Southland are all prominently featured on the show this week while High School Lites will also have highlights from the SouthWest Suburban.

This week's Viewers' Choice Game of the Week generated over 5,000 votes as Von Steuben will travel to Taft to represent the Red-North.

We'll also have a Getting to Know feature on Conant senior guard Jimmy Sotos.

Thursday's Game

Hyde Park at No. 7 Kenwood, 4:30 p.m. -- Kenwood will try to keep its momentum going as they host Hyde Park in a Red-Central battle. Kenwood (5-1, 1-0) is coming off of a Red-Central win over Dunbar earlier this week while Hyde Park (3-1, 1-0) defeated Lindblom for a conference victory as well. The Broncos are still unbeaten in Illinois as they're relying on senior big man Manny Patterson and his talented group of teammates. Hyde Park is trying to figure things out in head coach Jevon Mamon's first season as Andrew Anderson had a nice game against U-High at the Chicago Elite Classic.

Friday's Games

No. 11 North Lawndale at Westinghouse, 4:30 p.m. -- The Red-West is going to be a lot of fun to watch this season as this should be an interesting game. The Phoenix (5-1, 1-0) knocked off Marshall for a Red-West win on Wednesday while Westinghouse (3-3, 0-1) is coming off of a tough double-overtime loss to Farragut. Westinghouse is going to have to slow down Carlos Hines and Martrell Barnes but they can counter with a talented senior of their own in Coreyoun Rushin.  

Kankakee at Crete-Monee, 6:00 p.m. -- We also head to the Southland on Friday night as Kankakee (1-3, 0-1) travels to Crete-Monee (3-2, 1-0). The Warriors survived a high-scoring, double-overtime win over Rich East on Wednesday as they're led by senior and Toledo commit Dwayne Rose, the nephew of Derrick Rose. Kankakee is off to a sluggish start as they've lost some close games and they could use a conference road win here.

Rich East at No. 19 Bloom, 7:00 p.m. -- Keeping it in the Southland, Rich East (2-4, 0-1) will try to shake off a double-overtime loss this week as they travel to face No. 19 Bloom. Rich East has two one-point losses and the double-OT loss to Crete-Monee this year, so they could be better than the 2-4 record indicates. Bloom (4-1, 1-0) was impressive during Thanksgiving week at the Chicago Heights Classic as they look like one of the premier teams in the South Suburbs this year.

No. 24 Thornton at Lincoln-Way West, 7:00 p.m. -- These two teams battled in the SouthWest Suburban Red last season and both programs return some key pieces. Lincoln-Way West (2-4, 1-0) is led by senior Marco Pettinato as he's an All-Area candidate and big-time scorer. Thornton (3-2) will counter with a big scorer of its own with senior Alonzo Verge.

No. 16 Benet at No. 15 Notre Dame, 7:00 p.m. -- This could be the best matchup of Friday night as two unbeatens clash in the ESCC. Benet (5-0) is coming off of a runner-up finish in Class 4A as they bring back some talented players like Jack Nolan, Liam Lyman and Justin Enochs. The Redwings have looked very good early this season as they've piled up a lot of double-digit wins. Notre Dame (6-0) is also off to a hot start as they picked up an overtime win over Loyola and another victory over Bartlett last weekend. The Dons have a lot of size on the inside as Chris Heinichen, Jeameril Wilson and Sean Johnson are all 6-foot-5 or bigger.

No. 12 Stevenson at Mundelein, 7:00 p.m. -- Stevenson is off to a great start as they try to carry that into Mundelein in this North Suburban contest. The Patriots (6-0, 2-0) are led by Indiana commit and senior Justin Smith as he's one of the best players in the state this season. Mundelein (2-4, 0-1) dropped one to Zion-Benton earlier this week as they try to get back on track in the North Suburban race.

Lake Zurich at Zion Benton, 7:00 p.m. -- Two team with high expectations in the North Suburban face each other in this one. Zion-Benton (2-1, 1-1) dropped a conference game to leader Stevenson last weekend but recovered with a double-digit win over Mundelein during the week. Lake Zurich (4-1, 0-1) dropped its conference opener to Waukegan after a 4-0 start to the season.

Viewers' Choice Game of the Week

Von Steuben at Taft, 6:30 p.m. -- This week's poll was a tight one as over 5,000 people voted and this game barely beat Lane at Uplift. The Panthers (0-2, 0-1) are trying to pick up their first win of the season after losing to an out-of-state opponent and No. 9 Uplift. Senior Rafael Cruz put up monster numbers last season as he's the player to watch for Von Steuben. Taft opened its Red-North slate at home against Lincoln Park as they're facing two tough opponents right out of the gate at home. They'll try to capitalize on those early conference home games with a win here.