“Because of all the encouragement I received and the amazing soccer experiences I’ve had, I want to take my lifelong passion for the game and pay it forward.” – Paul Sanchez
Paul Sanchez is foremost a teacher. Spending the early part of his professional career training to and eventually teaching kids, he is an expert at communication, compassion, understanding, and training. He’s also well-versed when it comes to soccer.
As a child, influenced by neighbors and friends, Sanchez began playing soccer for Milwaukee Sport Club. One of his earliest soccer memories is more of a nightmare as he was placed in goal for a penalty shootout in the championship game of a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel sponsored tournament although he had never played keeper before. However, his fondest soccer memories are rooted in a field near his childhood home where he battled his siblings for bragging rights daily.
As a teenager, Sanchez played with the Tosa Kicks and Marquette High School soccer teams. Perhaps the most formative of all his experiences was an opportunity he got at age 15 to travel and play soccer in Europe with Teams USA. “When I got to tour Europe, that’s when it started. That’s when I realized soccer was something I loved,” said Sanchez. He played internationally for six weeks, seeing the world, and seeing a collective and constant passion for the game.
Coach Sanchez attended Marian University for four years becoming Team MVP, Captain, and earning All-American honors. He attributes his success on the field to the work he put in off the field and his aptitude for setting goals.
He began coaching just a few years after he began playing. He stepped in to coach his younger brother’s rec team when none of the team parents would. Since then, he has led camps, coached with the Kickers Nationals and the Polonia Majors, and assistant coached for Marquette High School, winning the 1997 State Championship. Currently, Sanchez is and has been a full-time coach with Milwaukee Kickers for three years.
Needless to say, he loves coaching. Working on a staff with so much professional soccer experience, he places a lot of value in his time as a teacher. “I love being a teacher. Some guys think it’s all about winning, but I want to see the progress. It’s great seeing something you worked on weeks ago finally click.”
Sanchez's experience with at-risk children trained him to be prepared for anything and to be able to explain skills and teach strategy in unique ways. Since children on rec teams do not necessarily have a passion for the game or any prior knowledge, he finds that particular level to be the most challenging, but also the most rewarding as a coach.
Regarding Milwaukee Kickers Soccer Club’s recreational and select programs, he is most happy with the Kickers’ commitment to provide quality soccer education and experience to everyone: no matter the socioeconomic status. “It’s important to me to be part of an organization like the Milwaukee Kickers that makes soccer accessible and affordable to all.” Taking his excitement with the Kickers’ mission and strengths even further, he says, “We do a great job of keeping the game in perspective for players and parents. We allow other sports and passions to come through, and we keep playing soccer from becoming a job.”
As an avid fan of professional soccer, Sanchez loves watching Barcelona. He has taken a lot of inspiration from Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez, and the fast-paced, precise play from the Catalan Club. He loves soccer, but he also has passion for family, music, and literature. He is particularly grateful that his children enjoy the same game that he loves and that his job is something the entire family can be a part of.
“I’ve never needed my kids to be Division 1 athletes. I just want to give them this lifelong gift of exercise, friendship, and social experience, and if they want to take it further, they can,” said Sanchez.