Confessions of a Teacher and Athletic Coach [Interview]

Matthew Gates 7m 1,713 #coachinterview

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Read This Confession To Me

Interview with a Teacher and Athletic Coach

Science Teacher

A few months ago, I was contacted by a gentleman who had to get his thoughts out.  What better place than on Confessions of the Professions? Any experience is an experience always worth sharing. I encouraged him to publish his articles on the website.  I really wanted to hear his story!

He ended up writing a series of confessions based on his experience in the military. He is the first marine and military personnel to have published a confession series (The Marines: Three Moments That Made Me Realize I Wouldn’t Re-Enlist!, Great Shot, Lance Corporal Up, and Football Panel Of Death!) about his time in the military on Confessions of the Professions.  I was very intrigued by his honesty and his stories of his time in the military that I featured his Confession Series in the Confession Highlights of 2013.

Since then, we have kept in touch through email and he asked me for an interview. If I did an interview, I wanted him to return the favor and grant me an interview, as I know he certainly has plenty of knowledge to share! While he relayed his past experiences in the military as a Marine, I was curious about the man he has become, his life now, and his values and goals — and what life in the military really taught him. This is my interview with him.

What is your name? My name is Alex Sanchez and I am named after my grandfather. He was a caring man and the patriarch of a solid family. My parents saw a lot of value in his name and I for one am proud to carry on some semblance of his legacy though I may never truly live up to his potential.

How old are you? I am 31 years old. I can’t believe that I am this age! It seems as if it were just yesterday that I was a young 20 something year old kid living a chaotic life. My 30’s has given me more clarity and stability than I ever could have imagined a decade ago. There are, however, moments that I truly do miss those wild days.

What did you study in school? I studied mostly the Humanities and Education. I wanted to be a lawyer, but I also was drawn to the prospect of teaching from a very early age. I grew up as the oldest son of an immigrant family. As my dad and mom worked odd job shifts I was asked to take on many responsibilities ranging from cleaning to arguing on behalf of my parents with bill collectors. One of the responsibilities that shaped me the most was having to teach both of my brothers to read.

Were you ever in the military? I proudly served my country in the Marines. It was an experience that I feel has shaped my life for the better by instilling in me a sense of grit that I was missing before enlisting.

What did you learn? I learned a trade, but more importantly I gained a sense of structure that I was missing. I also learned that just when you think that you have reached your limits for hardship that there will always be more. So it makes very little sense complaining in the long-run.

What advice to have for people thinking about going into the military? Be either willing to conform or be strong enough to force others to see your ideas more clearly. I spent too much energy trying to partially lead while also partially following. You can’t really listen while talking and vice versa. Be comfortable being confident or being humble. Either the two will require full concentration and discipline,which can only be truly achieved by knowing who you are.

What do you for work? I am teacher and athletic coach. I have had to grow into the role of being a confident coach. It -luckily- has also made me a better teacher by reminding me of the need to sometimes teach concepts and skills piecemeal or in a way that makes it easier for everyone to understand.

Do you love your job? I love working in a setting that has a lot of positive energy. Teaching is one of those jobs in, which it is difficult to go a whole day without at least smiling once. There are fleeting moments in which I wish I had other intangibles -such as being able to travel-  but these are easily outweighed by the impact that I have on young peoples’ lives.

What advice do you have for people looking to get into your line of work? Make sure that you prepare yourself while in college. I mean, take the time to leave school with a business degree or technology background. The burnout rates for teachers is very, very high. There are too many teachers who stay in the classroom because they feel that they do not have any other viable alternatives. Having that education in your pocket should help you minimize that sense of being locked down doing something that you do not love.

Does your past experience in the military affect how you work today? Oh yeah! I find that it helps me coach effectively. There is a surprising amount of overlap in the methods that great coaches and military leaders use. Thoroughness in planning, honesty in actions are some that easily come to mind. It, also can help in the classroom by setting a tone of authority. It, however, is a double edged sword in that it sometimes makes me less warm and outgoing. Students sometimes need to know that you care about them greatly. My time in the military makes it a little harder for me to show them that I do sometimes.

Do you have any websites? I have had several websites. I started using blogger and was hooked by the thought that my words could be read by tens of thousands of people. I eventually went back to school and stopped blogging. It is difficult to put yourself through school while also blogging. I have since then started a website by the name Up From Nothing. It ultimately became a testing ground for ideas and also a painful lesson in the need for aggressive thinking and testing before implementation. I have closed the site and have begun work on something that I can see as being my life calling. I will make sure to share it with you all when I am done refining it.

Why did you start a website? I have been hooked on creating websites for the same reason that I wanted to be a lawyer or a teacher: helping others.

What is the topic of your website? My current site is a bit of a secret and I like it that way. It is one of those websites that will hopefully change the world for the better by making massive inroads into something that we all tend to overlook. I feel that this is one of those moments where the potential for goodness exists.

What do you hope people get out of your website? I hope that it gives them a sense that the world is not as jacked up as it feels sometimes. That there are generally positive things taking place all around us. I am hoping to challenge their perceptions about what is possible.

What advice do you have for people looking to start a website? Wow! Where do I begin? I think that there are five pieces of advice that I would readily give them.

  1. Plan, plan and when you think that you have planned enough go back and plan some more. The internet is the ultimate battlefield. You have to worry about everything from user experience to what search engines think of your work.
  2. Expect to have your butt kicked! Websites come and go. The average web entrepreneur spends 9 months before calling it quits. We are all preconditioned to wanting it easy. I have a theory and I think its that Google is a reflection of its founders work ethic. They worked out of a garage in their company’s early years. You have to exhibit the same mission discipline and tenacity if you want to be rewarded with a loyal following.
  3. Never stop learning! There is always something that you could do better. I don’t care what it is never stop looking for more answers whether its for building better back-links or optimizing your site’s design choices.
  4. Quitting is okay: as long as you are learning how to win from the experience of losing! Up From Nothing did not meet my expectations and only trial and error was able to teach me why. I could easily look at that experience and say I will never do that again. I, unfortunately, am not built that way. I will admit defeat that a battle has taken me out, but I will not easily quit the larger war.
  5. Real life must come first. I am as guilty as the next webmaster in that I can easily spend whole days sitting in front of a computer. I am fortunate enough to have someone in my life who reminds me that there are other things that can be done. It is often in these moments away from my desk that my best ideas arrive.

If there is one thing you could change about your past, what would you change? I would have fully embraced being a full-fledged nerd, but would have also pushed myself towards being a passionate athlete. I did not fully embrace either or and that to this day irks me. I feel that I have ideas that are grandiose, but do not have the prerequisite confidence in my intellectual or physical ability to pursue. This doesn’t mean that I will not try to find ways to do so, but that it makes the process a bit more stressful than it should.

Alex, I appreciate the interview very much and your contributions to this website. It is an honor to have interviewed you, a man who has served our country proudly, as you continue to serve our country through doing what you truly love: being an inspiration to, coaching, and educating children.