Luke A. Garza was an Oklahoma State University student trying to assemble some of his sportswriting clips for a portfolio to show potential employers, so he went to internet search engines to find some.
“I looked up my name,” Luke A. Garza said, “and I saw Luka Garza of the University of Iowa. I thought, ‘Oh man, if I ever try to find myself all I’ll ever be able to see is him.’”
His byline is “Luke A. Garza.” When I first saw his name on Twitter, I assumed it was someone’s lame attempt at a parody account. Of course his middle name couldn’t have started with one of the 25 other letters.
The plot thickens. Luke, a native of Gig Harbor, Wash., near Seattle, graduated from Oklahoma State with a degree in sports media last May and started his first full-time job in June. Where? In Iowa, naturally. At the Mason City Globe Gazette.
Explaining that he isn’t Luka Garza, the Hawkeyes basketball player, hasn’t been Luke A. Garza’s biggest challenge in northern Iowa this basketball season.
“It’s my first Iowa winter,” Luke said. “I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I didn’t know I’d walk out of my apartment and see six inches of snow on my car. I had bought a two-in-one ice-scraper/brush, so that helps. But I still don’t have a good pair of snow boots or snow pants.”
He’s in the eye of the snowy hurricane of the Iowa high school sportswriters’ gauntlet right now. It’s the week after the state wrestling tourney and the week before the girls’ basketball tourney, followed the next week by the boys’ basketball tourney.
Luke described his first state wrestling tourney as “hectic, but fun.”
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“I honestly love this job,” he said. “I wake up every day excited to go to work.”
Covering a sporting event most nights doesn’t leave much time to watch sports on TV, but Luke likes what he’s read about the Hawkeyes’ Garza.
“He seems to make a real conscious effort to adapt his game to today’s style of play,” Luke said. “He makes 85 percent of his free throws, he hits 3s, he has post moves — I think that’s pretty cool.”
Last week in Iowa City, I asked Luka Garza if he had heard of Luke A. Garza.
“I have,” Luka said, smiling. “The other day some fan was tweeting something at me but tagged him, and then the guy tagged me, and I was ‘Oh, this guy, I think he was talking to you.’ So it was confusing.”
It certainly was/is.
The Garzas have similarities besides their names and both being in their early 20s.
“He’s from Washington, D.C.,” Luke said. “I’m from Washington state. We both have dark hair and kind of bushy eyebrows.
“He had a benign cyst removed (from his abdomen, last fall). I had like a cyst in my neck. I was actually pretty worried about it. I was looking at a surgery of three or four hours. But it just went away on its own last April or May.
“He sprained an ankle this season. I sprained my left ankle last year playing in an intramural coed preseason game. I was on crutches for five weeks.
“So he got hurt playing Big Ten basketball, I got hurt in an intramural coed game. He had a 9-pound cyst, mine was one inch.”
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As for their shared last name, Luke said “It’s not super-common, but it’s not super-rare, either.”
Luka is 6-foot-11. Luke said he is “6-foot, flat.”
Asked if he could beat Luka in a game of one-on-one, Luke said “I have a nice little step-back jumper, but even that, I’m guessing he could probably block it. Maybe I’d jab right and drive left. Then after he sees that once, I’m done.”
Luka Garza, a friendly fellow with a good sense of humor, would get a kick out of that. When I showed him Luke A. Garza’s Twitter page, Luka said “That’s hilarious. I’d love to meet him.”
They could talk about being two guys in sports who are early in their promising careers. Two guys from two Washingtons who overcame cysts and ankle sprains, and are trying to do the same with an Iowa winter.
l Comments: (319) 368-8840; firstname.lastname@example.org