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Pflugerville teen living with autism finds his voice. Now he uses it to announce softball games

Benji Garcia says his autism makes it hard for him to talk to others. And yet, his voice is what comes through the loudest during softball games.

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas — Everyone who meets Benji Garcia loves him. Just ask his teachers and coaches at Hendrickson High School.

"Benji is a very special person in general," said Hendrickson head softball coach Lindsay Eaton.

"Benji is a light to anyone," said Hendrickson unified champion teacher Maggie Stoecker.

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The recent Hendrickson High School graduate uses his charm, booming voice and plenty of sports knowledge to captivate crowds on softball game days.

"My job here at Hendrickson High School is announcing softball games," said Benji. "What I love most about gamedays is that I love to say 'Up next!' and say their name."

Beni earned this job in the 2019 season and refused to let anything keep him from performing – even a disability that he has navigated his entire life.

"I have autism," he said. "It impacts me by sometimes being afraid to talk to people."

And yet, Benji has managed to find his voice.

"His disability does not hinder him," said Eaton. "You can just tell the more he does it, the more confidence he gains, the more unique [his delivery becomes], and his personality comes out."

The Hawks softball team handpicked him for the task.

"They were like, 'Do you think he'd want to announce?'" said Stoecker. "When we brought that to him, he was like, 'Are you serious?!'"

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Benji was picked due, in part, to his sports knowledge that he owes in part to his dad, Joey.

"Before he passed away from colon cancer, he watched a lot of sports," said Benji. "I started to get into sports when I was in sixth grade."

"When the games were on, he knew that dad would be there and he would sit and they would watch games together," said Melissa Garcia, Benji's mom. "I think that was a way of maintaining the same interest his dad had."

If Joey were alive today, Benji knows exactly what he would say about his announcing job.

"He would say, 'That's my boy! That's my boy, I'm so proud of you, son!'" he said.


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