Grayling football coach retires
Tim Sanchez, after nine seasons leading the program, ends coaching stint to take new job as principal at Grayling Middle School
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
For the first time in many years, he will not be a football coach.
“My whole adult life, I’ve coached football. It’s all I’ve known,” said Tim Sanchez, who’s been the varsity football coach for Grayling High School since 2009. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach with the program.
Sanchez recently retired from coaching in order to take on a new occupational challenge. Sanchez, the assistant principal at Grayling High School, will take over as principal of the Grayling Middle School next year. Jeff Branch, the current principal at GMS, is moving to the high school for one year before retiring, Sanchez said.
“It was a great opportunity,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez said “it was already difficult being the assistant principal and coaching football,” and he knew if he took the principal position at the middle school he would have to give up coaching.
“It was an extremely tough decision,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez was the head coach at Grayling for nine seasons, 2009 through 2017. During that time, his squads won 64 games, lost 29, and made it to the playoffs eight times. Sanchez has the most wins for a varsity football coach in school history.
What will he miss most about coaching?
“The relationships with the players, you can’t replace that with anything else. Family bonds. We talk about being a football family. I’ll miss the bonds with the fellow coaches,” he said.
He knows it will be difficult once the next season arrives, but isn’t sure how much he will miss coaching.
“I guess I won’t know till that happens. Obviously Friday nights are going to be difficult,” Sanchez said.
Some of his favorite memories with regard to his Grayling coaching career involve playoff wins.
“Our first playoff win vs. Standish. That was the day the power went out and we were worried if we were even going to be able to play,” Sanchez said.
(It was 2010. The Vikings defeated the Panthers of Standish Sterling Central 31-0.)
He also mentioned two wins vs. Kingsford, an Upper Peninsula school.
“One of the more memorable was beating Kingsford here. First time beating a U.P. team,” Sanchez said.
(Grayling defeated the Kingsford Flivvers 42-25 during a playoff game in 2013. The Vikings hosted the contest. During the previous four seasons, Grayling had lost four playoff games in the Upper Peninsula: at Negaunee in 2009, at Menominee in 2010, at Menominee in 2011, and at Kingsford in 2012.)
Sanchez said the playoff win in 2016 at Kingsford was a highlight of his tenure.
“Going over the bridge, beating a U.P. team,” Sanchez said. “That was amazing. That was awesome.”
“Winning the Lake Michigan Conference two years in a row and having an undefeated season. Three nine-win seasons. Nine wins is a school record. Pretty special,” Sanchez said.
Any low points?
“Every loss is brutal,” Sanchez said.
He said making the long trips to the Upper Peninsula for playoff games and losing “left a bad taste every year coming back.”
“Usually it was we won the games we expected to win and the losses came in games we knew were going to be tough,” Sanchez said.
He said the losses were “never due to the kids’ effort.”
“We’ve been blessed here,” Sanchez said. “We’ve always had kids that want to come in and work. We’ve had it really good.”
Sanchez said the program received a lot of support during his time as coach.
“We’ve been blessed having a great football culture. Great parents,” he said. “The town in general supporting Grayling football has been amazing. It’s always been positive.”
Sanchez said the support from his wife, Lila, and his kids – he has three young daughters – was always strong.
“With all of the time that coaching takes, she – for lack of better term – is a single mom August through October. She never would complain, always supportive. Couldn’t ask for a more supportive wife,” Sanchez said.