Meet Phillip Sanchez. Firefighter, father and Gridiron New Mexico coach. In today's blog post, Coach Sanchez shares what first led him to coaching flag football, why it continues to be a privilege, and the lessons he instills in his co-ed team each season. Oh, and the number of championships his son's earned along the way (hint: it's the same number as Michael Phelps' Olympics Golds 😮).
How did you get your start as a flag football coach?
I started off coaching my son and nephew and their friends from school. Turned out they were pretty good and we just kept improving and getting better, and as they got older they won more and more league championships. They’re up to 23 championship since 2013, and the ages range from 10u to 16u. They've won several at all different divisions.
I have no more kids of my own on the team, but I take pleasure in coaching and teaching kids from a young age, and try to let them know that sports is an outlet to express yourself and also build character and learn how to be a good person, teammate and opponent. There’s a lot to be learned from winning and losing– a lot of translations to real world and I’m just glad to be a part of this important building block.
Your team name is the 'Legends'; what's the story behind that?
The team name Legends came from all these little athletes being legendary on-and-off the field!
How would you describe your experience as a Gridiron Football Coach?
I would describe my experience as a Gridiron Coach as a privilege. Many parents entrust their pride and joys to me and I just want to teach them how to be a good teammate, a good person in general who makes mistakes and learns how to overcome them, and be a better person / player than they were when they first started.
What do you teach the kids on your flag football team when they first join?
Have fun. In the end, that’s what they’re out there for; to enjoy the sport and the moment and play for the love of the game.
Do your job. On every team, players have jobs to do and more times than not everyone’s worrying about what everyone else is going to do instead of just doing what you’re asked to do. I give them jobs on the team and I tell them, by putting all their jobs together, they will accomplish the task at hand and then they do task after task together and make improvements where needed and at the same time they learn to be a team.
We're a family. I also stress the importance of being a family while they’re on my team. Family win together and lose together.
Priorities. I stress about school and how that plays into everyday life and future life. I ask them that they be good children to their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, etc. I stress that they go to school not to play sports but rather go to school to learn and play sports to help pass the time of learning and as a form of rest from learning.
What do you hope the players on your flag football team take away each season?
We’ve enjoyed many wonderful times and also experienced some heartbreak as well. There’s a lot to be learned from winning but much more to learn when you’ve been bested and lose with class and respect and still come back again the next game and start all over. I always tell the parents that their kids have the talent, skill, desire; they are like little gems that just need someone to give them a chance and polish them up a little bit. This is why I think the privilege is all mine.
Interested in becoming a coach or registering your kid with your local league? Visit our League Finder today to find a team near you! And here are some great digital resources for you as you start or continue your coaching journey.
Special thanks to Coach Sanchez for sharing his story from the Gridiron.