Veteran head coach, in his 16th season, emphasizes work ethic, responsibility and having fun
When The Concordian approached women’s soccer head coach Jorge Sanchez about doing an interview for a profile of him, he was hesitant.
“It’s not about me,” Sanchez said. “It’s about the players.”
Sanchez has become synonymous with the Concordia Stingers women’s soccer team. Ever since taking over the role in July 2002, the coach has worked to improve the program.
Sanchez began his coaching career with the Lakeshore Soccer Club and also coached at John Abbott College. After coaching in the West Island, he moved to the provincial level, where he helped Quebec’s under-15 and under-17 women’s teams. From 1997 to 2001, he was an assistant coach for the national team’s training program, where he would train Quebec prospects who were considered hopefuls for the Canadian national team.
In 2002, the Stingers were looking for a full-time coach. Sanchez said he found himself at a professional crossroads.
“I didn’t want to go back to coaching club,” he said. “One morning, I was reading the paper and saw a job posting for head coach of the women’s team at Concordia […] so I said, ‘I’m going to take a chance, apply and see what happens.’”
Fifteen years later, that leap of faith has paid off. “I now find myself being one of the more senior coaches in the department. I kind of like that role,” Sanchez said.
“I like to think that I’m a player’s coach, who trusts his players and demands loyalty from my players—not to me, but to the program,” he said.
“I’m not someone that is going to yell and scream all the time, but I have standards and I expect players to live up to them,” Sanchez said. “But I like to think that when they need me, I’m there.”
His players seem to agree. “He is a very committed coach,” said fourth-year midfielder Alice Grandpierre. “[He] will do anything in his power to do what is best for the team and his players.”
Third-year midfielder Laura Lamontagne added that a running joke for the players on the team has been Sanchez’s use of Twitter, where he is constantly updating scores and news related to the team.
“In a way, it’s funny, but it also shows how much he takes his coaching role seriously and wants our program to get more recognition,” Lamontagne said.
The veteran head coach has always been very adamant about supporting his players and helping them with what he calls his three pillars.
The first pillar is to remember to have fun. “Soccer is a game. If you’re not having fun doing it, you should probably be looking somewhere else,” he said.
For the second pillar, Sanchez wants players to be a part of the total student-athlete experience.
“It’s not just about the sport. They have to be successful in the classroom to even be eligible to play,” he said. “I want to create an enriching but competitive environment. Very positive, very supportive environment […] never forgetting that on Tuesdays and Thursdays at practice, they’re competing to get on the field as starters.”
Lastly, Sanchez wants players to take responsibility for their actions, both on and off the field. “As individuals, are they doing everything in their control to be successful?”
As much as the veteran head coach enjoys winning, that’s not the main focus of his job.
“You want good soccer players, but I hope I’m helping [the players] become good people as well,” he said.
While Sanchez is not at the end of his career just yet, he said he wants to retire with the Concordia Stingers.
“This will probably be my last coaching role. I’ve put so much time and energy into this, it would be hard to start over somewhere else because this is my passion,” he said. “It’s intertwined with who I am as a person.”
Main photo by Matthew Coyte