Two Vernon seniors who were on the gridiron and the court together and helped the Lions football and basketball teams to the playoffs this year will be continuing their athletic career after signing letters of intent to play at the next level.
On Thursday, Sebastian Garza signed to play football at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, while Tyrone McKinney signed to play basketball at Wayland Baptist University. Both were three-year varsity lettermen in both sports, and both were starters in both sports their junior and senior seasons.
“It’s hard to talk about these guys separately because they both have the same characteristics,” Lions Head Football Coach and AD Kevin Sherrill said at the signing ceremony. “Both have great character and heart. Their motors run every day and they were both great leaders for us. We could depend on them. They were going to work hard in practice and they were going to bring it every single game. Both of them have faith in their lives and their character is outstanding. I couldn’t be more proud of these young men and these guys are going to be missed.”
In football, Sebastian was a tight end and defensive end, while Tyrone was a receiver and defensive back. Lions defensive coordinator Brock Payne said both players were a foundation for the defense.
“First off, I love these guys,” the coach said. “You could build a defensive line around Bash, and you could build a secondary around Tyrone. Like Coach Sherrill said, these two young men were leaders on the field and court, and I’m looking forward to great things from them both.”
Vernon coach David Garza Jr., also offered his thoughts. “I’m proud of you little brother,” he said to Bash. “Tyrone, he’s a little guy, but he doesn’t play 120 pounds on the field, that’s for sure.”
At 5-9 and 140 pounds soaking wet, Tyrone is accustomed to being told he’s too small to do this or that. He’s heard it all of his life.
“Yeah, I’ve heard it all before,” he said with a big smile. “It just pushed me to show that everything is not about size. You have to have heart. And if you have heart, you can do anything you want to do.”
After the football season was over, Tyrone, son of Jason and April Maldonado and Cameisha Murray, committed to play football at Wayland Baptist. But, while playing a pick-up basketball game a couple of months ago, the guard realized that was the sport he loved and he didn’t want to give it up.
So, he went to a tryout at Wayland Baptist and made the team. “I had to make a decision, and I chose basketball,” Tyrone said. “They wanted me to play both sports, but that just wasn’t going to work. The football coach wasn’t mad. He just told me to pick the sport where my heart was, and that was basketball. It’s always been a dream of mine – to play in college.”
Playing football at the college level was something Sebastian didn’t consider until recently. “I had never really thought about it,” he said. “Everything just kind of fell into place.”
The son of David Garza Sr. and Lourdes Cardenas, Sebastian felt right at home when he went to Durant, Okla., to visit Southeastern’s campus. “It felt like being there was a good fit,” he said. “I loved the campus and the coaches. I’m excited and ready to make the transition to focusing on being just a tight end. That’s going to be exciting.”