Mingus Union alumnus Isaac Sanchez signed a lucrative scholarship deal to play for Arizona Christian soccer.
Sanchez, who graduated last school year, said he chose ACU because of its faith-based background, the atmosphere there and because of their head coach, Andrew Belleman
“I’m excited to join ACU,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez took an official visit on Dec. 1 to the school in Phoenix. He will start there next school year.
“The campus is looking really nice and the students that were there were really nice,” Sanchez said. “The campus is really nice and big too, so I’m pretty excited.”
Arizona Christian is a non-denominational school with about 820 students. The Firestorm competes in the NAIA and went 15-5-2 this year, reaching the national tournament.
Former Mingus Union boys head soccer coach Calvin Behlow said Sanchez worked hard to get to this point.
“Isaac always been a good athlete, it took the desire to want to know one sport specifically and that being soccer, really helped him out,” Behlow said. “His older brother played for me as well and was phenomenal and so I think Isaac coming in
just thought ‘hey I’m just gonna take over my brother’s shoes’ and those are big shoes to fill with his brother Hector and Isaac took a little bit of getting used to having to work hard. He’s a perfect example of a kid that thought ‘this is what I want to do’ and if he really decides to do it, he’s going to work hard enough and get there. So he put in a lot of offseason work.”
Behlow said Sanchez is versatile.
Sanchez isn’t sure where he’ll play in college but he thinks as a defender.
“I think my favorite thing about Isaac is he fit the plug and play system the best,” Behlow said. “He was definitely more a center mid than he was a defender and when it comes down to it, we had center mids, I didn’t have room for him there and it was either sit the bench or learn another position and he stepped up big his senior year playing in a position that wasn’t truly his natural position and tried to learn the system and did a really good job of playing that position.”
Sanchez will major in something business related, like accounting or finance.
He said he’s grown so much from his freshman year when he was on the JV and his brother a star senior.
“I think I’ve developed immensely over the years, definitely with Behlow and some other coaches that have helped me over the years,” Sanchez said. “I would say mainly with Behlow because he used to (laughs) tear other holes in me and that’s what pushed me over the years, definitely, something I’ll always remember is a coach like Behlow.”
Behlow said Sanchez is patient.
“What I liked about Isaac was not necessarily his defense but his offensive ability from the defensive position I think 1v1 defensively we’ve got better defenders but when we get the ball he steps up in a big way to be almost a third center mid from a defensive position which is always helpful, you get more guys involved in the offense you seem to hold the ball longer and he was always a big help for that,” Behlow said.
Friends, Behlow and MUHS athletic director Yancey DeVore were his signing ceremony. His friends are not just teammates though.
“I’ve know them forever actually, they’re like family,” Sanchez said. “I’ve been playing club ball with them and high school too. I’ve come a long way. They’re probably going to sign pretty soon too.”
Sanchez said Arizona is nice and staying in state means he’s closer to friends and family.
“I’ve been waiting for this day,” Sanchez said. “I’m excited to join ACU’s program, do what’s best.”
Sanchez is getting a $12,000 scholarship, a bigger amount than most Marauders have gotten recently.
It’s also hard to get a scholarship for college soccer in Arizona.
“That’s the hard part about soccer in Arizona, is that there is only two four-year school colleges that offer it: GCU and ACU and then the junior colleges are only offering it in Phoenix,” Behlow said. “There’s a handful of kids every year that I could probably put in a junior college uniform but the problem is when you get an academic scholarship of you know $28,000, it is hard for you to go to a junior college and play soccer when you can go to NAU or ASU or U of A on a full ride scholarship. It’s hard to give those up. So Isaac fits that perfectly where athletics is offering him an opportunity to go to a four-year college.”
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