Community mourns loss, celebrates life of beloved Coach Sanchez

The gym doors at Devine Middle School overflow with post-it notes as students expressed their love and fond memories of their beloved teacher and coach, Jacob Sanchez.

The late Jacob Sanchez, 35, always wanted to be a teacher and coach, and he was doing one of the things that he loved best, playing basketball and working out with some of his kids during his conference period, when he started feeling bad last Thursday, January 5. He collapsed in the Devine Middle School gym around the time the bell rang and students soon found him in distress. Staff members came to his aide performing CPR nonstop, and EMS arrived within 15 minutes to transport Sanchez to the hospital. Sadly, our community soon received news that Coach Sanchez had passed away. One thing is clear though–his love, caring nature, and inspiration will live on in the hearts of hundreds of students and athletes whose lives he touched.

“He always wanted to be a teacher/coach,” said his wife Becky. “He loved connecting with kids and making sure they knew they always had someone to turn to that believed in them.”

A good friend and fellow coach, Lon Cosby adds, “He didn’t care what anyone else thought. He was going to take care of his kids no matter what. If a kid didn’t have food, he would help out. If a kid didn’t have money for a team shirt, he would find a way. He was a very loving coach/teacher and friend. I know for sure he would want us to make sure his boys were taken care of and that they had snacks before the games!”

He was very passionate and involved, Cosby said, adding that he would often step up to cover a class or extra duties.

His wife adds that he loved helping students reach goals and went above and beyond to make class fun.

“He loved spring time because they would get to build and launch rockets. He made sure to attend games for students when he was able and always strived to include all students whenever possible. Countless time, he would have me pick up a pizza to bring to lunch because his kids met a goal he’d set for them,” Becky said.

Before his teaching days, Sanchez could often be found mowing lawns for the elderly or collecting shoes for kids in need through the Kicks for kids program.

Sanchez loved all his kids at school but nothing could compare to his love for his girls at home–his wife and high school sweetheart Becky, and their daughter Karli, who is 7 years old.

When Jacob was just a junior in high school, he met the love of his life at a friend’s house.

“We started dating when I was 15,” Becky, his high school sweetheart said. “I remember the first time I laid eyes on him. He was wearing his gold and maroon school workout clothes, and I fell in love with his smile right then.”

“He loved being a dad,” Becky adds, “From the moment she was born, he became a family man. He would do anything for us. He and Karli also loved singing together; he would play Rock Band and have her sing on the microphone. He loved to read her favorite book to her and get out of bucket of softballs to practice T-ball. He also loved taking us out to the flea market and he would always carry Karli on his shoulders.”

Sanchez taught and coached at Devine ISD, his alma mater, for 7 years. He grew up in the maroon and gold (graduating from DHS with the Class of 2006), and there wasn’t anywhere else he’d rather coach.

Students released dozens of red heart-shaped balloons over Warhorse Stadium the morning after the tragic loss, coming together to celebrate his life and pledging to carry on his mission of helping others by “living like Coach Sanchez,” a motto many students have adopted.  They also filled the gym door with memories of Coach Sanchez written on post-it notes and on their hearts.

Sanchez taught 6th and 8th grade Science and coached football, basketball, and track field events at DMS.

Every former student and athlete can remember how impactful that one special teacher or coach was in their lives, and Coach Sanchez was certainly “that one coach who believed in them” for so many kiddos, just as he strived to be.

See full obituary inside.

Benefit dance and silent auction Jan. 28

On January 28th, there will be a dance at the Devine Golf Course with live entertainment by the Solis Brothers. The door proceeds will go toward a college fund for Sanchez’ young daughter, Karli. There will be a silent auction as well, and you can contact Janette Romano to donate to that.

Early Release Jan 13 for school

In order to give DISD employees and students an opportunity to attend the funeral services for Coach Sanchez on Friday, Jan. 13, the district has made the decision to close all schools at 1 p.m.

Buses for PreK 3 and the elementary ECSE class will run at noon. All other buses and pick-up will be at 1 p.m. at all campuses.

By Kayleen Holder