BHS Football Coach Joe Sanchez Shares Lessons Learned from Fatherhood, Family & Football

15 mins read

Dad, it is one of man’s greatest titles. It is a role that calls to mind descriptors like leader, teacher, protector, role model and provider. Live it out well, you become the hero to both your children and their mom. When you extend those characteristic traits to the community, well then you become the heroic dad to many. In celebration of Father’s Day, we here at 365Barrington would like to take the time to showcase one of the legendary dads here in our community of Barrington – Coach and father-of-two, Joe Sanchez.

Coach Sanchez is the varsity head coach for Barrington High School. He is entering his 25th year teaching and coaching and he just completed his 19th year as Barrington’s Head Coach. Joe and his wife Wendy have two beautiful daughters – Ellie and Aybree and live here in Barrington.

We here at 365 Barrington can rave in our own words as to why we think Coach is the man deserving of our title THE Barrington Dad. Before we turn to those who know him best – the players he’s coached and his family – we wanted to share Coach Sanchez’s answers to a few questions we had about fatherhood, family and his favorite food to prepare for his girls. (Spoiler alert: it involves ordering out 😉).

365: What has being a father taught you?

Coach Joe Sanchez:  “Being a father has taught me humility & the importance of effective communication. Humility from the standpoint that you quickly realize from the time you bring your children home from the hospital, through every stage of their life afterwards, that you are now responsible for trying to do the best you can to provide them with the skills necessary to help them become the best version of themselves. This is a very humbling experience because it is almost impossible to get it right all the time, so it takes a great deal of humility to accept that.

I think it also takes great humility to be able to accept that you can’t do it by yourself. Especially as a “Father” there is this perception that we are supposed to be strong and have all the answers and the reality is we don’t. So, I believe it’s really important to have enough humility to be able to accept that we won’t always know what to do and it is okay to admit that and to ask for help. Trust me I have been in plenty of situations where I did not have all the answers and fortunately, I have a great support network with Wendy, family and friends that I can count on for support & guidance to help me be the best Father that I can be for Ellie & Aybree.”

“I have also learned as a father the importance of effective communication. When I think of effective communication as a parent it is not just being able to clearly express what we want & why but I believe it also includes the ability to listen. I have found that as much as we want our children to just accept what we tell them, we all know that it doesn’t always work that way, especially as they get older. So it is very important to be able to communicate with them why we make the decisions we do and then also be able to listen to their concerns and feelings as well. I find when I do this with the girls, it helps them to better understand why Wendy and I make the decisions we do and then when I listen to what they are thinking it allows me to better understand their feelings on the situation as well. We may not always agree with each other but at least there’s a better understanding of the situation and we can move forward with and learn from it.”

365: How do you best balance work and home life?

Coach Joe Sanchez: “I think I’ve learned the best way for me to balance work & home is to try and make sure wherever I am, I do my best to be fully present. Whether I am in the classroom, on the field, at home or at an event for one of the girls I try to make sure I am fully invested & present. For me I try to do the best I can to remove any possible distractions (usually my phone) that would not allow me to be where my feet are so I can make sure I am able to give it the attention and investment it deserves. This is not always easy as we all know work & home both have a tendency to overlap but for me, I try to focus on what I can control at that particular moment to the best of my ability, and this has allowed me to create balance for my family and I.”

365: What is it like being a dad in a house full of girls?

Coach Joe Sanchez:  “It’s truly a blessing!!! They are my whole world and my best friends. Being in a house full of girls I truly believe has helped me to become the best version of myself because they challenge me and push me out of my comfort zone. I sincerely LOVE being a ‘GIRL DAD’.”

365: If your girls asked you to make them dinner, what would you make them?

Coach Joe Sanchez: “This is funny because those who know me best, know that my skills in the kitchen are very limited (and that’s being kind LOL). My girls know the answer to that question is usually either a frozen pizza, reheating leftovers or we are ordering out. Now I am decent on the grill so if the weather permits usually making marinated grilled chicken, with vegetables, sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts are the favorites for my girls.

365: What is a drink every dad needs on their bar cart?

Coach Joe Sanchez: “Once again this is funny for me to respond to because those that know me best know that I don’t drink very often. But when we have friends over, I believe it’s always important to have a good selection of IPA’s & craft beers for them to choose from.”

365: What advice would you give to fathers?

Coach Joe Sanchez: “If I had any insight to share about being a father it would be to never underestimate the value of your words & actions around your children. I think we have a tendency to forget that, even though we may think they aren’t listening or paying attention to us, they are. And how we choose to respond & behave to situations in our lives is setting the example for how they will choose to respond & behave in their lives. From how we interact with family & friends, to how we handle adversity, to our simple everyday actions they are always observing. That doesn’t mean we have to be perfect, but we need to be mindful of the fact we are the beacons of their lives and as a result they are looking to us for guidance. In many ways it reminds me of the quote, “With great power comes great responsibility.’ Being a father/parent is an unbelievable opportunity, but it comes with great responsibility to try and help our children become the best versions of themselves.”

365: And just for fun… What is the must have football snack that every dad needs to have in the kitchen on gameday?

Coach Joe Sanchez: “Personally, for me it’s chips & beef queso. This is my go-to snack on gameday.”


365: What makes Joe such a good dad to the girls?

Wendy Sanchez: “Joey is completely engaged in all of our lives on a daily basis. It always amazes me that he can come home from a full day of school, practice and managing so many issues but when he walks in the door of our home it is evident and obvious his primary focus is his family. For the past 22 years, (our 22nd wedding anniversary is this weekend, June 18!) Joey’s love and support has been unconditional, genuine and loyal. He attends all of the girls’ activities including gymnastics meets, musical performances, school events, and lots of Soccer tournaments! (including the state tournament this weekend!!) He takes the time to listen to the girls and instills important values by having good easy-going chats with them on a regular basis to keep up to date on their lives and what is important to them. He amazes me on a regular basis!”

365: What have you learned from watching Joe parent the girls?

Wendy Sanchez: “Joey is supportive and loyal. Joey has always been my support system since our high school years! We were high school sweethearts at Wheeling High School! I have known that strength, guidance and security for a long time, but is amazing to watch him support and communicate with our girls. He is insightful, caring and always has the girls in his heart whatever the situation. He will always be their safety net and confidant. I always love to watch him with the girls after a hard-fought game, win or lose he always asks, do you want my COACH perspective or your dad’s opinion? Whatever the answer, Joey has always had the gift of finding the right words for the right time. He is introspective, engaging wise, and supportive :)”

365: Is Joe the fun parent or the disciplinary parent of your family?

Wendy Sanchez: “Joey knows how to have fun by planning fun family events. He loves taking us to lots of professional and college games, we love to vacation and visit BHS grads/ visit college campuses all over the US! We never miss a Bronco Football game! He loves to watch a movie, go for ice cream and enjoy family fun!

As far as discipline, the kind of relationship he has developed with the girls has shifted over time. His job has moved from “manager” where he organized the rules and told them what to do, to Coach! When Coach speaks, they listen, understand the expectations and that dad always wants things done the right way the first time! The girls know the “rules” in our home and never want COACH Voice to come out! He is absolutely a disciplinarian in a very consistent and motivational way:)”

365: What makes your dad the world’s greatest?

Joe’s Girls: “My dad is the best for more reasons than I could ever explain, but what stands out the most for me is how he wholeheartedly supports and cares for the family. My dad is a constant example of all the good qualities that one should hold, he is always there for us to offer advice and comfort, never fails to make us smile and he most importantly tries to continuously mold us into becoming the best version of ourselves. My dad is the greatest because I know that he truly values all of the time that we spend together, and he always is willing to sacrifice his desires for what we want. Without my dad I can truthfully say that I would be nowhere close to the person that I am today, and I can credit this to his constant dedication to trying to be the best dad that he can be.”

365: If you could have just this one-character trait of your dads, it would be?

Ellie Sanchez: “If I could have one character trait that my dad possesses it would be his ability to be such a great leader. My dad is easily one of the best leaders that I know, and I credit that to his selflessness. I have learned so much from watching him lead the Broncos and I will be forever amazed with his ability to always have a team-first mindset. This quality is not only present in his coaching style but along with his parenting, my dad never fails to always put his family first and himself second. This heart of service is so admirable for me because I believe that this ability allows him to cultivate such a familial environment in all places that he serves.”

365: One of the best pieces of advice your dad gave you?

Ellie Sanchez:  “My dad is my number one supporter and the person I always have turned to for advice, he is always willing to listen and offer both dad advice and coach advice which he always knows how to balance. The best advice my dad has ever given me is to trust the process, while in my journey of life with both sports and school my dad has always instilled the value of the process. This lesson has allowed me to fully immerse myself in all the grind and preparation that goes on behind the scenes, he has been sure to highlight the notion that, in order to succeed, you must do the little things well every day. This has been essential for all the success that I have experienced both in my academics as well as in athletics. While my dad has shared much advice that has led to shaping the person that I am today I will be forever grateful for the value of the process that he has instilled in me.”


365: Describe the impact Coach Sanchez made to you as a player and how it continues to carry out in your life today?

Scotty Miller (BHS Class of 2015 & Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wide Receiver): “Coach Sanchez’s impact on me goes way further than football. He taught me so many life lessons and values that will forever be instilled in me. Our relationship did not abruptly end when my high school football career ended. He continues to be one of my biggest supporters to this day, and I know I can reach out to him with anything, and he’ll be there for me.”

Sam Keeler, BHS Class of 2015: “The impact Coach Sanchez has had on me is noticeable, 5 years later. He made it very clear to each one of us that he was molding men for life, just as much as he was preparing us for football games.”

Josh Wright, BHS Class of 2023: “Coach Sanchez impacts each and every athlete on the field and off. Coach Sanchez builds relations with all of his athletes and shows he truly cares about our well-being and futures. Personally, for me he has helped shaped my mental state by always being around the community and when I was young, he would come to tcyfl practices with his team. That would motivate me and give me something to work for. Coach Sanchez is such a great coach because he teaches us life skills and develops great relationships with us. One of the things Coach Sanchez really preaches on is family and that’s what the football team is all about. We’re a group of guys who all come together and build relationships that we will remember for the rest of our lives.”

Tommy Fitzpatrick, BHS Class of 2020: “Coach Sanchez emphasizes that lessons learned playing football are bigger than the sport of football. They are lessons in life. He wants to make sure that every player will be successful in any endeavor after leaving the program. He also creates a culture within the program, where no matter what, it is known that he, and all the coaches on his staff will always be there for each and every player. I use the lessons he taught me and my teammates every day of my life. Coach Sanchez has created a culture that is like no other high school program.”

365: What is a characteristic trait of Coach Sanchez that you value?

Scotty Miller: “Loyalty. Coach Sanchez keeps up with all of his players/students as well as anyone I’ve ever seen. He truly cherishes his relationships with everyone.”

Sam Keeler: “I would say that Coach Sanchez’s best quality is his honesty. From ‘doing the little things’ right to teaching us to be accountable for everything we say and do. Anyone who knows Sanch can count on him to lend you his ear or for him to get in your ear if you deserve it.”

Josh Wright: “One of coach Sanchez’s characteristics is optimistic no matter what, he’s always looking on the bright side of things and he can always see the good in people.”

Tommy Fitzpatrick: “Coach Sanchez is devoted to his team and the entire BHS football program. I value this dedication, because he is so real and approachable. His devotion does not matter if you are on the Varsity team or not. When you begin your Freshman season, he begins to get to know you. He creates a connection with all his players. He knows all the players in his program by name. He makes you feel he is always there for you, if you need anything. Even after you leave the program, he thinks about you, remembers you, and he is still the same person towards you.”

365: What is one of your fondest memories playing for Coach Sanchez?

Scotty Miller: “My senior year after we beat Maine south, coach Sanchez called me and told me I had been offered by BGSU where I ended up going to college. It was a special moment for us because we had worked so hard together for years. It was awesome to see how excited he was for me, and a phone call I’ll never forget receiving.”

Sam Keeler: “Simply put, his genuine and charismatic decorum have help him mold young minds for 25+ years! I, like many others, look back with such powerful memories! Thank You, Coach Sanchez!”

Josh Wright: “Being one of coach Sanchez’s players and student I see both sides of him. He’s one of the greatest teachers anyone could ever ask for. He’s so helping and encouraging for all the kids and truly tries to help us. He’s also always in the community cheering on the rest of the Barrington high school going to wrestling meets, volleyball meets etc. it’s people like this that make our community great, and he will have an impact on me for the rest of my life.”

Tommy Fitzpatrick: “Honestly, having the privilege of earning the position of Varsity Quarterback for two years at Barrington High School, there are countless memories. A memory, I would assume Coach may not remember; yet was a highlight for me, was the summer after my Freshman year. Strength and conditioning camp had just started. Coach reached out to me and asked that I arrive early in the morning for the Varsity conditioning camp and practice with the Varsity team, and then stay and practice with my JV team as well. He wanted me to learn and develop by practicing and watching the older and more experienced players. I was on Cloud nine! It was the best feeling ever! I was honored that Coach had recognized my hard work and achievements thus far. To ask me to work and learn from the Varsity players, right after Freshman year was huge. I would continue to work with the Varsity players during the season as well. It was Awesome! This memory was the foundation for the responsibility I felt at every practice and every game. I believe Coach Sanchez taught me to take ownership of my every action on and off the field. No excuses. This was my team, and it was my job to give it my all, every moment with my teammates. Coach taught me to be personally vested and feel responsible for my team. It is this kind of care, passion, and dedication that I carry with me, as I have moved on to continue my football career at North Central College.

One more thing… Coach Sanchez continues to help my motivation every day, as I play for a quality college football program, and learn from the game of football. It is a game, as Coach Sanchez would say; but there is so much more to this game of football. It’s the bonds that hold teammates together and the lessons we learn from the adversity we face. It is not easy to be targeted by a 300-pound lineman and somehow break away, in one piece, to get a first down or a better yet a touchdown. It’s not easy to be tackled by a guy twice your size and get up time and time again. Yet, I know that in my heart, I will be able to draw upon all the experiences and lessons I learned from Coach Sanchez to continue to get up and overcome the challenges life brings my way. Thanks Coach!”

Having Coach Sanchez in our community is a win for Barrington. Likewise, each one of you dad’s create a win in your home! We here at Barrington 365 want to wish all you dads a Happy Father’s Day! Keep building your legacy! We appreciate you; we notice you; we honor you and today we joyfully celebrate you!!

About the Author

Lauren Byrnjelsen, One Life Kitchen

Mother-of-five and Village of Barrington resident, Lauren Byrnjelsen, is a 365Barrington contributor and owner of One Life Kitchen , a place to learn, feast and share! Lauren will be introducing us to the people who make Barrington a great place to live, work and play. Follow along as Lauren shares stories about local residents through their words, photos and sometimes in their kitchens! Follow Lauren’s latest personal blog posts at

And if you’d like to book an event with family or friends at Barrington’s kitchen away from your own kitchen, visit

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