Dec. 19, 2012
Laramie, Wyo. -
One of the greatest Wyoming high school wrestlers in history, Ray Sanchez came to the University of Wyoming after compiling an amazing record of 98-0 and winning four state championships at Cheyenne Central High School. He was a two-time senior men's National AAU champion in 1965 and 1966 and a two-time Great Plains National Champion representing Wyoming in 1966 and 1967. Sanchez was undefeated competing for the Cowboys' freshman team in 1966. As a Cowboy sophomore on the varsity in 1967, despite battling an elbow injury, Sanchez finished fourth in the nation at 115 pounds and earned All-America honors. Unfortunately, he suffered a back injury the following year and was forced to give up wrestling. He went on to a successful career as a teacher, coach and high school administrator.
Where has life taken you since you finished at UW?
My first job out of UW was as an English teacher and head wrestling coach in Lander, Wyo.; I was there for two years. My second job was in Rawlins, Wyo., as an English teacher and head wrestling coach; I was there for four years. I also got drafted to be an assistant football coach for four years. Next, I moved to Greeley, Colo., where I was an English teacher and head wrestling coach at Greeley West High School; I was there for four years.
I then got out of coaching, and retained a job at George Washington High School in Denver as the English AP and Honors class teacher; I also served as the yearbook advisor and English Department chair. I then served as Diversity Coordinator for the Boulder Valley School district where I developed the District's first diversity program and provided staff development on the program for the entire district.
I then went to work with the Jefferson County Public School District in Golden, Colo. I first served as a classroom English teacher and forensics coach at Chatfield Senior High School. I then assumed the position of Educational Equity Director and went on to create and develop an equity program entitled "Culturally Responsive Teaching to Diverse Student Populations". I provided staff development on this program for 133 schools in the district, which is the largest school district in Colorado with 83,000 students.
I then went on to be the principal at Stein Elementary School in Lakewood, Colo. (Jefferson County Schools), a Title I school of 720 students and 83 faculty. When I arrived at Stein, it was one of the lowest performing schools in the district. By the end of my four-year tenure we were recognized as the highest performing Title I school in the district and received many academic achievement awards.
It was at Stein that I fell on some ice while helping a student get up from her fall. This fall caused a re-injury to my back which required the fourth but final back surgery in 2007. I retired in 2007. Currently, my back and the rest of me are doing great!
Where are you living now and tell us about your family?
For the past 13 years, my wife Lynn and I have lived in Longmont, Colo. We have been together for 18 years. Lynn and I are both in our second (and final) marriages. I have six children from my first marriage: Raymond, Katrina, Britt, Scott, Megan, and Amy; Lynn has two daughters from her first marriage: Nikki and Leah.
Together Lynn and I have very talented children: Raymond-chemical engineer; Leah-OBGYN/critical care physician; Katrina-HR administrator; Nikki-small business manager; Britt-IT Specialist; Scott-math teacher and head wrestling coach; Megan-dental hygienist; Amy-head accountant at a Denver business.
Like myself, Lynn is a retired elementary school principal with the Boulder Valley School District. She was honored as Bilingual Principal of the Year in Colorado in 2005.
We also have a total of 23 grandchildren and are expecting one more; Leah and Ryan will welcome Nora in February, 2013.
Every summer we hold a Grandpa's/Grandma's Camp. All our grandchildren who are five years and older come to our house in Longmont for a four day/night adventure, which is usually 12-15 children. Activities include ice cream for breakfast, make your own pizza, horseback riding, rock climbing, meals prepared by each other, water fights, Grandpa's scary stories, egg drop, watching the Jim Thorpe story (a mandatory viewing), etc. We've been holding camp since 2004.
You were part of a Cowboy program that went 17-4 in duals in 1966-67, the most dual wins in a single season in school history. Have you kept in touch with former coaches and teammates through the years?
I don't think people remember what a great team we had that year. We beat a lot teams and we didn't wrestle "wimp" teams. We beat UCLA, Colorado, Air Force, Nebraska, Oregon, Colorado State, etc.
Joe McDaniel (who just recently passed away) was my coach when I came to UW in 1965. Joe was a great wrestling tactician and very committed to the UW wrestling program. During those years, we had a fortuitous combination of strength in the lower weights and higher weights; myself at 23's, Ron Horning at 32's; Dale Kujath at 54's; Don Miller at 57's, Leon Mickelson at 67's and Tommy Thompson at heavyweight and others, I'm sure.
We knew we were a tough team. Although I personally didn't realize what we were accomplishing record-wise, as a sophomore I just wrestled.
I have kept in touch with Ted Adams, Ron Horning, Paul Soriano, Joe Dowler (my high school wrestling coach and future UW wrestling coach) and somewhat with Charlie Sanchez. I see and talk with Gordy Cramer once in a while. He lives here in Longmont. Of course, I see my brother Art a lot, as he lives here in Colorado.
Who was the most influential figure in your life when it came to wrestling?
Joe Dowler! Joe came to Cheyenne Central when I was a junior in high school. Joe was the greatest motivator, coach and teacher I ever had in my life. As a two-time state champion when he arrived, Joe sharpened my wrestling. I got rid of a lot of "junk wrestling," tactics that would not work on good wrestlers. Joe was with me for two more state championships (for a total of four), for my two regional AAU championships and for my first Senior Men's National AAU Championship in San Francisco. We have followed each other for more than 40 years.
How has collegiate wrestling changed since you were a Cowboy?
For me, the tactics and maneuvers have not changed in any significant way. The biggest change I've seen as a fan, are the rules for takedowns. If you have your toes inside the circle, you get two points. I miss "supporting" parts like a knee or butt. I don't see a lot of "going for the pin" and after all that is the whole purpose. I see wrestlers scoring enough points to win and then letting the clock run out for the win.
Noting the number of wrestling programs that have been cut over the past 15-20 years, what do you believe collegiate sports administrators must do to keep it going?
Wrestling will never be a revenue generating sport. It is incumbent upon administrators to set a specific amount of support for wrestling and stay with the commitment. Make cuts at other places. Communicating and celebrating with the fans and other supporters about the wrestling program's success. Get the word out in a consistent and timely manner like they do for football and basketball. I don't see this happening to the degree that other "top-level sports" do. Spread the good news.
How do you feel about being named to the Wyoming Hall of Fame last September?
It was a great honor to be included with some of the greatest athletes UW has ever produced. To be remembered after all these years was especially rewarding. I am humbled and sometimes don't feel adequate. The induction ceremonies were outstanding. Given the opportunity to talk about my induction was very special. I only gave UW two years of my wrestling ability. I should have/could have produced so much more for me to feel warranted to receive this honor. My back injury was a terrible event for my wrestling career.
What does it mean for a Wyoming native to don the Brown and Gold, from your experience?
I had over 18 full ride offers from major Division I schools, but coming from Cheyenne and committing to UW was a natural move. Representing UW Brown and Gold was always an honor. UW is a small Division I school, so it was with great pride to show those bigger schools that the Brown and Gold colors were more than capable to compete and win. Brown and Gold runs thru my veins, thru my being. Sports are the great equalizers. As a native, and a Hispanic, I never felt slighted or diminished by the UW community because of my ethnicity, which I did see in other parts of Laramie. As a native, I am more than proud to call UW my university. Living in Colorado can sometimes be a challenge.
What did you like the most about Laramie when you were a student here? What do you like to do here when you come back to visit?
I loved the dorm life, the roommates and friends and the cafeteria food was great. I know many people who hated it. Classes were small enough to feel supported. The athletic department, coaches and Athletic Director Glenn Jacoby were the greatest supporters. I didn't do much in Laramie proper; the campus life provided most of what I needed.
When I visit Laramie I like to go to the Student Union and the book store. Invariably, I will run into former classmates and other friends, especially for any home game. I attend as many UW wrestling matches as I can, where I visit with many former and current student-athletes of all sports. As a former wrestling coach in Wyoming, I meet many former students and coaches who attended UW.
Where Are They Now Archives
July 12, 2011 - Brian Lee (Football)
July 22, 2011 - L. Mengelkamp (Women's Golf)
Aug. 5, 2011 - Nichole Rider (Women's Basketball)
Aug. 25, 2011 - Lynn Stetson (Swimming & Diving)
Sept. 14, 2011 - S. Smith (Track & Field)
Sept. 29, 2011 - Mike Amundson (Men's Basketball)
Nov. 1, 2011 - Mercy Adetoye (Women's Soccer)
Nov. 30, 2011 - Scott Usher (Swimming & Diving)
Jan. 3, 2012 - Wesley Maiyo (Track & Field)
Feb. 22, 2012 - David Hearn (Men's Golf)
April 3, 2012 - Trenton Franz (Football)
May 24, 2012 - Patricia Chien (Women's Tennis)