El Monte head coach Joel Sanchez wins U.S. Marine Corps Semper Fidelis award …



I really like this quote from Coach Sanchez: “You need to know where you’re at. I’m at El Monte High School. I don’t know when was the last we won a CIF championship, if we even did. We want to win, of course, but the reality is that I’m not here to win. I’m not at Orange Lutheran or Santa Margarita where if you have a 5-5 season, you’re fired. I’m here to get these kids better; keep them in school, get their grades up, teach them responsibility, show them there’s other things they can do after high school other than getting a job to get by. There’s college and they can do things with their life … become someone in life.”

El Monte High School football coach Joel Sanchez was presented with the United State Marine Corps Semper Fidelis during last Friday’s Glazier Football Coaching Clinic in Costa Mesa.

Sanchez, who is entering his 10th season at El Monte, still isn’t clear about who even nominated for the award. But the honor of being presented by two Marines is something he’s quite proud of.

“I don’t know exactly who nominated me, but when I found out about it I wanted to know why and how it works,” Sanchez said. “It’s not necessarily for a coach who is winning CIF championships and league titles, but somebody who makes a difference in the kids’ lives and represents some of the same qualities that the Marines represent.

“I was surprised in the beginning because I didn’t know what the award was. To have the two Marines that were there give it to me, it was an honor to get something like that from them.”

Sanchez graduated from El Monte in 1997 and played football and baseball at Azusa Pacific University. He was a linebacker on APU’s 1998 NAIA national championship team.

Sanchez has breathed life into El Monte’s football program since returning to his alma mater as head coach. The Lions have seen a gradual rise in wins, including last year’s 7-4 record. El Monte was alive for the Mission Valley League heading into the final week of the season before losing to Arroyo.

The Lions made the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs, but were hamstrung in a loss to Whittier Christian with standout quarterback Brandon Martinez, who was nursing a sprained ankle.

Off the field, El Monte’s program has sparked excitement from the community and alumni. Much of that is due to Sanchez’s fundraisers and frequent barbecues. The result has been excellent attendance at El Monte games and increased involvement from the community.

“You need to know where you’re at,” Sanchez said. “I’m at El Monte High School. I don’t know when was the last we won a CIF championship, if we even did. We want to win, of course, but the reality is that I’m not here to win. I’m not at Orange Lutheran or Santa Margarita where if you have a 5-5 season, you’re fired.

“I’m here to get these kids better; keep them in school, get their grades up, teach them responsibility, show them there’s other things they can do after high school other than getting a job to get by. There’s college and they can do things with their life … become someone in life.”

Aram’s take: We have a bunch of coaches in our area (less than last year, but still …) who are tasked with more than just figuring out ways to win a game. Sanchez is one of them. He has done an amazing job at his alma mater because he understands his alma mater. Much like how James Heggins was at Baldwin Park. Sanchez has put in ample time trying to get the community and student body to take pride in the Lions football program. And it’s now starting to really show. The Lions were pretty darn good last year, and this coming season they should give another good account with QB Martinez and quite a few others back. Without Sanchez, it’s scary to think what El Monte’s program would be.

  • Big Dog

    Great Job coach,I like the story about you teaching your kids to be men, but not by the world’s standards. keep the faith and keep developing these kids into men of character, integrity and destiny.Men who teach the game of football must have passion but men who teach kids to play football and to succeed in life have a calling!Thanks to all the coaches who make the kids into fine young men.

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