North Central College - Naperville, IL

Joey Sanchez '95: Coaching with Impact

In 15 years as a history teacher at Barrington High School and nine years as head football coach, Joey Sanchez '95 demonstrates principles that he experienced both as a music student in North Central's Concert Choir and as a four-year football player with coaches that included Jim Miller '86, now North Central's athletic director.

"My philosophy is, 'what are we doing to make them better people in the long run?'" he says of his approach. "Maybe it's reinforcing that they should arrive on time, ready to engage in studying or practice."

Sanchez emphasizes that teaching football fundamentals and U.S. History lessons first involves building relationships. "We all want to feel like we matter," he says. "The lessons I'm teaching may be important but if I'm not connecting with you as a person, what are you going to learn? And I know how important that is from attending a small college like North Central."

On the football field, Sanchez coaches with energy and enthusiasm, and his players mirror this positive attitude with "high-fives" and their own spirited workouts. Sanchez also recognizes the value of taking time to have fun and enjoy other team activities. "We have kids come back after they've graduated and they're grateful for what they've learned here," Sanchez says. "It speaks volumes that we made a connection, shaped a young adult."

In October, Sanchez was honored as a Chicago Bears Coach of the Week. The recognition involves a halftime introduction at the New England Patriots game on December 12 and attendance at a Bears' practice with head coach Lovie Smith. (Mark Vander Kooi '95, head football coach at Lincoln-Way West High School, was also honored.) In the meantime, Barrington locked up an Illinois High School Association playoff berth. "It's been a special season with a great group of kids, coaches and parents. I feel very blessed."