Freshman phenomenon and forward for the Montclair State University men’s soccer team Oscar Sanchez has been able to balance school and sports, while also working to be able to pay for school. The Honduras-born soccer player has been one of the best players in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) this year.
He has not only helped his team become NJAC champs, but has also won himself NJAC freshman of the year honors. He is the team’s leading goal scorer with 14 goals this season, making an incredible impact all season long.
Sophomore midfielder Michael Knapp is Sanchez’s teammate, and won NJAC midfielder of the year.
“He’s hardworking and always gives 100% effort out on the field,” Knapp said.
Sanchez loves the team environment and felt like he was instantly a part of a family. The team started off ranked sixth in the country and over the season he has felt that the team bond strengthened throughout their ups and downs.
Sophomore midfielder Brent Llewellyn is another teammate on the soccer team and has seen Sanchez’s growth all season long.
“His work ethic is great and it really shows on the field,” Llewellyn said.
The team has been a great fit for Sanchez, keeping his focus on soccer while still having a great time.
“This team is fun to be with and we all have the same goals,” Sanchez said.
Growing up in Honduras and then coming to the United States, Sanchez has always looked up to Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the best professional soccer stars in today’s game. However, Sanchez often finds himself being compared to another soccer great, Lionel Messi. Fans and coaches refer to Sanchez as “Lil’ Messi.”
“If I have the right mindset I know where I could be,” Sanchez said.
Since he was very young, Sanchez has made his goals to be a professional soccer player one day. These goals started to come into fruition when it was time to decide between his multiple scholarship offers or try to make it to the big leagues. Sitting down with his family and expressing what he wanted to do against going to college was a tough decision. With constant help from his mom, her having his back helped make the decision easier. Passing up on scholarships is a tough task, but that wasn’t Sanchez’s goal; it was to be a professional soccer player.
He chose the big leagues, but after a tough injury to his achilles, he had to step away from the sport he loved. This heartbreaking injury never interfered with Sanchez’s end goal. It did, on the other hand, pose a different route for how he was going to get to his dream.
Oscar always knew his potential, being a state ranked player at Garfield High School. When receiving multiple offers to play in college, his goals were set high.
This allows him to stay motivated to play each game with a chip on his shoulder. His best friend and brother, Christian Sanchez, has helped him stay on top of his goals as well. Christian Sanchez has been there every step of the way and Oscar Sanchez knows he will always have his back.
Sanchez’s biggest inspiration and motivation is his mom. Sanchez knows how lucky he is to have a mom who put him in the best situations to grow coming from another country. She always keeps his best interests at the forefront of her goals. Here at Montclair State, he continues to live with his mom as she cares for him and pushes him to achieve his goals.
His mom knows he has a future in the sport, but makes sure to reiterate how important an education is, especially as an immigrant. Sanchez is currently pre-major and is hoping to become an international business major in the near future.
“I’m happy here with a great soccer environment as well as the people,” Sanchez said. “Not many people can get this opportunity from where I am from.”
With so many driving factors, he knows there is nothing stopping him. Everything is just another hurdle he needs to get over.
While working to be able to pay for his education, he also tries to give back to the sport. Sanchez loves to give personal soccer training sessions to help youth soccer players. He also helps out with special needs children, showing them and teaching them the sport. He feels like giving these kids the passion and love for the sport that he has is so important to brighten up kids lives.
“I want to be remembered as someone who helped out and was inspiring to people,” Sanchez said.
Along the way, Sanchez hopes to bring the drive that he has to people all around him. He wants them to know that they can achieve whatever they set their minds too. Whether it is living in another country, a huge injury or anything that might be in someone’s way, he wants to send a message that it will work out in the end as long as you work for the goal.
Outside of soccer, Sanchez’s favorite activities are hanging out with friends and family. Having a supportive family is a huge part of what he has been able to do as well as his friends who have been with him every step of the way.
He also enjoys fishing and paintball when he is not on the field. However, there is nothing that makes Sanchez happier than playing the sport he loves. Soccer is the sport he was “born to play.”