Yes, it is true, smooth-talking Roswell girls basketball coach Fernando Sanchez has been arrested and given a life sentence in the game of love. Sanchez is married to an Artesia police officer.
Sanchez’ wife, Marcie, wasn’t always a police officer. In fact, when they met, Sanchez was a boys assistant basketball coach at Western New Mexico University.
Sanchez was in his third year as a coach and was on a recruiting trip in El Paso, Texas, when he and his fellow coaches went out dancing that evening at Grahams Central Station to blow off steam. A chance encounter turned into them dancing and talking the night away.
Sanchez knew he was taken when he drove three hours to practice the next morning in Silver City. Sanchez returned to El Paso that night to take her to dinner.
“We started talking,” Sanchez said. “We were pretty smitten with each other. After dating for four years and being married 10 years and four kids later, we’re still going strong.”
Sanchez decided it was time to advance his career. He left his assistant coaching job at Western to take the head job at Santa Teresa High School to move closer to Marcie. Once married, Marcie was a stay-at-home mom for the first eight years of their marriage. One day, his wife came home and told him that she wants to be a police officer.
“She just came home after our 8-year-old was born and said, ‘I think I want to be a police officer,’” Sanchez said. “She went from a stay-at-home housewife to a police officer. I thought it was the coolest thing.”
Both partners feel like the dangers of her job are inherent, but Fernando wanted Marcie to follow her heart and do what she feels called to do. Coaching basketball is what drives Fernando to get up in the morning, and he wanted his wife to feel as fulfilled.
“I get to do what I’m passionate about,” Fernando said. “I love coaching and teaching and working with kids. She has always been drawn to police work. One day, she just decided and two weeks later she was taking the paperwork, and taking a physical training test to become a police officer.”
Marcie passed the background test and qualified to go to the Academy for six months of training. At the time, Fernando was coaching and teaching at Alamogordo High School. Often, they work different schedules, but both of them find a time to make it work with four children. It is easier for Fernando because of his children: Delainy, 15, is a sophomore on the junior varsity basketball team for Roswell. Nicolas, 12, is a sixth-grader at Mountain View Middle School, and Dominic, 8, is a third-grader at Monterrey Elementary. He has a new baby boy, Maximus, that is three-months-old.
Fernando worries about Marcie and all police officers because each time they say goodbye it could be their last time. Marcie has put in 22-hour days working a case.
“I worry about every police officer,” Fernando said. “There is so much violence around the world right now, whether you’re an innocent bystander, or your house gets broken into, or you accidentally get shot. I think about it every time I go to kiss my wife goodbye, that she is going to work, and that she has a gun and she needs it.”
Fernando recalls on Sept. 2, 2016, his wife was on the police force in Alamogordo when fellow officer Clint Corvinus was shot and killed near a trailer park in Alamogordo.
“Marcie being a police officer put a lot of things into perspective,” Fernando said. “What I realize is it’s a privilege to be out here with the kids playing basketball. We put a lot of stress in this, and we see a lot of fans out here and they get into it. I push these kids as hard as I can to pull the best out of them. In the long run, this is a fun job. My wife does some stuff that I’m proud of. I’m proud of anyone who goes into law enforcement, military, EMS, or fire department.”
The Sanchezes just bought a house in Roswell. He plans on coaching at Roswell for a long time. Marcie has been hired by the Artesia Police Department.
Fernando went to Western New Mexico University where he played for a year. This is his 20th year in coaching. He is in his second year on the bench here. Prior to that, he was the head coach of Alamogordo (2010-16) girls for five seasons. Before that, he spent a year as the boys coach of Silver High School (2007-08), and then was at Santa Teresa (2005-07) for three years as boys coach.
“The boys play above the rim,” Sanchez said. “When it comes to working, girls work just as hard as the boys do. I enjoy the way the girls interact with each other. I think if you can get the girls to buy into your program, they’re going to give you a little more than the guys sometimes.”
Having coached both boys and girls basketball teams, Fernando feels the differences between the two sexes is minimal. The main difference is the physical nature of the boys playing the game above the rim. Sanchez believes the girls are more fundamentally sound in the basics of the game. Offenses and defensive sets are the same for both, there is not just an offense for boys and one for girls.
“I think the pressure to win is the same everywhere,” he said. “I think the expectation here is a little different. I think the personal expectation of the kids and the teams. We’re here to compete and win. Here, we’re going to win district, and we’re going to get into state playoffs. At Alamogordo, I thought we were building that.”
Roswell is looking forward to turning around their 6-11 season, with two games left before district play. The girls play at the Coyote Den against Fernando’s old team, Santa Teresa, at 5:30 p.m. Jan.19.