Comradery, discipline, leadership, wellness and overcoming obstacles are just a few reasons former Major League Soccer player Manolo Sanchez ’10 valued high school athletics—and why he returned to Germantown Friends School (GFS) this fall to pass on those experiences to the boys Varsity and Junior Varsity teams.
After playing soccer at Louisville and Clemson, where he contributed to a 2014 ACC Championship title, Sanchez spent four years playing professional soccer for the New York Redbulls, San Antonio FC, Harrisburg City Islanders and for the Puerto Rican national team. A series of injuries caused Sanchez to leave the field as a player, but opened the door for him to use his insight and skills for coaching.
Sanchez is proud to be back at GFS, where he served on the Varsity soccer team beginning his freshman year. During his tenure, the team made it to the Friends Schools League finals every year. Sanchez was recognized as three-time All-League, All-Southeastern PA and All-State, broke the school record for both goals and assists, and tied with his classmate Jason Symonette for most wins.
This year, as an assistant coach, Sanchez helped students not only build their technical skills, but also focus on the determination and teamwork that helped him excel in his athletic career in high school and professionally. Sanchez remains close friends with his high school teammates eight years after graduation, and keeps up with their athletic, professional and personal accomplishments as well as their challenges.
“Playing sports creates lasting relationships and bonds that never end,” said Sanchez.
“We’ve stuck by each other since the first day we met and started playing sports together at GFS,” said Dom Davenport, Sports Information Director and basketball coach. “I’ve been so proud of all of Manolo’s accomplishments and who he is as a person. I’m glad he returned to campus. Our athletic department gained a lot from his experience and professionalism.”
Sanchez enjoyed working under the leadership of head coach Sam McIlvain, “Sam teaches the students to do the right thing in addition to the best technical way to excel,” said Sanchez. “He teaches about the game, helping the students understand why they are winning or why things need to change.”
Sanchez is extremely proud of his team for their dedication, growth, and of course, their success as the Friends Schools League Champions. He doesn’t see their success ending anytime soon.
“GFS has a long and strong tradition of soccer excellence and I’m thrilled to be a part of it again,” added Sanchez. “The team is going to be good for a very long time.”