Yvonne Sanchez did not stay off the basketball sidelines for long.
The former University of New Mexico women’s basketball coach has returned to coaching this summer as a volunteer assistant for the Eldorado High School boys program. The Eagles are coached by Sanchez’s brother, Roy Sanchez.
“It’s my first time coaching guys,” Yvonne Sanchez said, “and it’s a lot of listening and learning, but the guys have been great. It’s kind of fun being able to run plays for a dunk.”
Being a volunteer assistant means less stress and far less pay for Yvonne Sanchez, who spent five seasons as UNM’s head coach after spending 11 as an assistant to Don Flanagan. She receives neither salary nor stipend for coaching at Eldorado, but Sanchez is still receiving a one-year buyout from UNM, which fired her in March after the Lobos finished 17-15 last season.
The buyout, which was announced at $150,000 to be paid in monthly installments of $12,500, is terminated if Sanchez gets a job in athletics – a paying job, that is.
Sanchez has been working at Eldorado, her alma mater, since April as an educational assistant. She works with autistic students, a position that allows her to continue building service time with New Mexico’s Educational Retirement Board.
It does not, however, allow her to work as a high school head coach. Albuquerque Public Schools require that head coaches be certified teachers.
For the time being, Sanchez said working as a volunteer assistant is a nice compromise. She has worked with the Eagles through summer league competition and plans to continue through at least the 2016-17 season.
“We didn’t know how it would work out,” Roy Sanchez said. “She came to our seventh-period basketball class a couple of times in the spring and introduced some things. After that we decided to let her try volunteering this summer and it’s been really good. We’ve been on the same page.”
The Sanchez siblings have certainly discussed coaching and swapped play diagrams over the years. This is their first time coaching together.
“After she passed a background check I decided to go ahead with it,” Roy joked.
Yvonne admitted to having some uncertainty about coaching male players but has been pleasantly surprised thus far.
“I didn’t know how they’d respond to me,” she said, “but when I tell them something it’s been ‘Yes, ma’am.’ They’ve been receptive and I like working with them. We’ve got a really good group.”
Sanchez still hasn’t ruled out a return to paid coaching at some point but said she wants to complete the two years she needs to qualify for retirement first.