Yvonne Sanchez

Many individuals are involved with sports from a very young age. For many, it sticks with them and remains a significant part of their lives. This is true of Yvonne Sanchez, special assistant to the coach for women’s basketball.

For Sanchez, sports were an outlet and a way for her to escape life’s hardships. She recalls the adversity she and her family faced growing up in a Hispanic community and why she finds great importance in her heritage.

“My parents grew up with little or nothing,” Sanchez said. “You look at anybody of color… and it seems like you almost have to work a little bit harder.”

Sanchez worked hard by playing hard. She grew up in the small community of Los Alamos, New Mexico, where she immersed herself in the sports world. She recalls the origin of her competitive and diligent mindset.

“I always grew up playing. I was probably one of two or three girls that played at that time,” Sanchez said. “Growing up, it was always against the guys, which was fantastic because you didn’t know any better. Not all the guys wanted you to play with them, so you not only had to be good, but you had to be better than most of them.”

Sanchez has carried her love for sports throughout her life, holding different jobs and positions throughout the years. 

“I got a high school coaching job at the Academy of Our Lady of Peace, a small all-girls school in San Diego,” Sanchez said. “Then I started my college career at New Mexico State…and went from there to San Diego State. And then New Mexico came calling, and the University of New Mexico coincidentally was being led my old high school coach.”

She continued to move around to other jobs and coaching positions, one of them being at the University of Michigan, until finally, she found herself at ASU. 

“ASU was a place that I had a lot of respect for. When Charli (Turner Thorne) called, I said, yeah, I’ll come and help,” Sanchez said. “I have always respected [head coach] Natasha Adair from afar. The coaching job that she and her staff did, I was extremely impressed. It ended up working out [having her come to ASU].”

Sanchez is adamant about the importance of inclusion and diversity on a team, and she has been able to express that as the special assistant to Coach Adair.

“When you’re in athletics, you’re going to coach everybody,” Sanchez said. “It doesn’t matter race, color, religion, whatever. They need to see you because those are your kids and those are your kids for life.”

While there is so much to celebrate every month, Sanchez is happy that the Hispanic community has a chance to celebrate their heritage and spread their stories to make an impact for the sake of inclusion and respect.

“When I go down the street or when I’m in a situation or a store and I see people speaking Spanish or hear it, it’s just great for me because it reminds me of my parents,” Sanchez said. “It reminds me of my childhood. It reminds me of home. And I love it. I really do.”