More thoughts from Sanchez on representing Mexico and playing in the World Cup


  BY KYLE FRANKO   @ByKyleFranko

Maria Sanchez is in Mexico City training with Mexico’s Women’s National Team as they prepare for the 2015 World Cup.   

Mexico’s opening match against Colombia is 17 days away in New Brunswick, Canada. It’s a game Sanchez may have fantasized playing while growing up in American Falls, but even she’s admitted it’s always felt like a goal   that’s a long shot. But she made it and before leaving to train with her new teammates, Sanchez sat down with the local media   for an interview to talk about her improbable rise in the soccer community.   How have you grown through this experience?     

Maria Sanchez: “It’s been a lot of hard work. But just knowing that I’m one of the best in Mexico now since I’ve been called to play in the World Cup, it’s just, I don’t know. I still don’t believe it that I’m competing at that level now.”  

Are you scared?      Sanchez: “Oh, yeah, I’m really nervous. Because I know even though I shouldn’t be and I should just play like myself and all that, it’s always hard to know that now that it’s at a national level. It’s really hard.”  

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Plain bigotry has never served us well

Eva Nye

Eva Nye

By Eva Nye

In recent weeks, I have felt both pride and sadness observing our community’s reactions to the international students and residents in our community. I am amazed and proud of our community’s response to the devastating earthquakes that rocked Nepal this spring. Southeast Idaho has raised and sent funds, supplies and direct help to the victims of those earthquakes. That response, I am sure, would not have been as strong if not for the presence of nearly 60 Nepalese students attending Idaho State University.
On the other end of the spectrum, I have been saddened by some of the comments made about groups of international residents, many of them students, in our local media, in comment sections and on social media. Differences of opinion and perception and the clash of ideas are fine, but plain bigotry has never served this community and our nation well. I prefer to embrace the international flavor of ISU and the benefits it brings to our community and not dwell on the actions of a few.
As a longtime citizen of Pocatello, I enjoy Southeast Idaho’s connection to the world through Idaho State University and the diversity of students and professors who come here to be engaged in higher learning.
About 30 percent — 56 countries — of the world’s approximately 195 countries are represented on ISU’s campus as international students, and if you count faculty, the number of countries represented at ISU may be more. This international influx enriches our community, adds to the educational value of ISU and gives Southeast Idaho residents a glimpse of the world and many diverse cultures and norms.
We can choose to feel insular. However, we are not isolated from the rest of the world in the most basic and essential way; economically, we are dependent on world trade. Idaho exports and imports more than $5 billion in goods and services. We are tied to faraway places for our jobs and everyday needs. According to the Idaho Department of Commerce, Idaho companies are selling goods and services to 168 countries around the world. Idaho’s largest exports are technology, such as high-tech products developed and sold by ON Semiconductor, and agricultural products grown and processed in Southeast Idaho.

An Idaho student learning engineering from a professor from Japan or economics from a professor from Saudi Arabia receives more than just knowledge in that subject; they may also have the opportunity to learn about other countries subtly changing their perceptions of that country the next time they see a news flash on their Twitter feed. In a similar way, an Idaho student interacting with an international student will build different impressions of a country based on that interaction. This creates firsthand knowledge that can help them in their careers and in life.
If you live in Pocatello and haven’t been to the various International Night celebrations — from African and Nepalese Nights to a Taste of France — you are missing good food, fun and unique entertainment. These cultural celebrations provide an opportunity to interact and learn.
I am impressed by these international students who are willing to travel, sometimes halfway around the world, to come to Pocatello to pursue their educations. Difficulty in communicating can be stressful, and it is far easier to be with fellow students from the same country. It is important that they are given the tools to be able to understand how to navigate through day-to-day life in a place very different from their home.
Earning a university education is challenging under the best circumstances and is a milestone event in the lives of those who earn degrees, whether an associate or a Ph.D.
Many students from the United States are studying abroad, whether it is for four years, a year or a semester. This is a program that has been in place for a long time. I hope our students are treated well by their host countries and met with open minds by people who have different ideas and impressions of the United States than we do. It is my wish that our community would do the same for international students and residents in Pocatello, which historically has been a melting pot.
I want Pocatello to continue to be a welcoming university community to all who call it home, even if only for a short time. We have so much to be proud of.

Eva Nye is a Pocatello City Council member, small business owner and community volunteer.

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Movie “Taken 3,” John Rush concert to kick off ISU SummerFest

POCATELLO — The Idaho State University summer concert and movie series begins this week.

Idaho State Summerfest 2015 kicks off with the movie “Taken 3” playing at the Bengal Theater in the Pond Student Union Ballroom on Tuesday, May 26 and Wednesday, May 27 at 7 p.m. both nights. The film is rated PG-13. Cost is $2 for the public and is free to ISU summer students with valid ID.

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Sanchez is as good as we thought — better even

It’s possible that t h e r e hasn’t been a person in Idaho prep h i s t o r y more overlooked than Maria Sanchez. Sure,   there were a few of us who knew the slight, left-footed soccer     player in American Falls was special. We watched her dart around scoring goal after goal and understood Sanchez was one of the best soccer players we had ever seen.   

We knew.   

But her family couldn’t afford to pay thousands of dollars for her to play on club teams and in showcase tournaments during the summer. If someone wants to play college soccer, they don’t do it by impressing coaches in high school, especially in the Gem State where the quality of soccer is viewed, at best, as marginal.   

That’s why when Sanchez scored 178 goals in her four-year prep career, coaches across the United States ignored the accomplishment. Who cares how many she scored? It happened at the 3A level in Idaho.   

If Sanchez wanted to prove to the world outside of American Falls how talented she was, she would have had to hook up with   an elite soccer team in Pocatello, Boise or Utah. Only then would someone have taken notice. She never played with those teams, though, and grew up ignored by the soccer community.   

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To the World Cup: It hasn’t sunk in yet, but American Falls’ Sanchez can’t wait to see what’s next

BY KYLE FRANKO   @ByKyleFranko

AMERICAN FALLS — Maria Sanchez grew up in a single-story house in American Falls. Right across the street is a park, large enough for two soccer goals. Sanchez learned to play on this patch of green grass. It’s the field that sparked the journey from an unheralded American Falls prep star, to an Idaho State freshman and to a member of Mexico’s Women’s   National Team that will play in the World Cup in June.   

“It seems like a dream because the more I try to think about it, I can’t get the idea of what’s actually happening now,” Sanchez said. “It’s what I’ve always worked for but I didn’t know it would come this quick.”   

Sanchez received an email Wednesday that she was one of 23 players selected to play for Mexico. She flies out Friday from Salt Lake City to train with her teammates in Mexico City. They pack up again and head to Canada on May 31.   

Mexico and Sanchez make their world debut June 9 against Colombia in a game that will be on Fox.


Sanchez can’t believe she’s reached this juncture of her career, but she’s eager to see what’s next.  “I know I’ll have to work harder than I ever have,” Sanchez said, “because I want to be one of the best players.”    

Sanchez introduced herself to the Mexican national team at a tryout in February in Los Angeles. Before going, Sanchez wasn’t sure she was ready to pursue a spot playing for Mexico, because it’s something she always saw herself doing after finishing her career at Idaho State.   

As a freshman in 2014, Sanchez was second on ISU in goals with seven (fourth in the Big Sky Conference) and led the league in assists with eight. Idaho State lost to Northern Arizona 2-1 in the conference championship in November.   

All Sanchez wanted to do was improve her game for her sophomore campaign. Idaho State coach Allison Gibson, however, encouraged Sanchez to not wait. Gibson thought Sanchez was ready for the national stage. Be brave, Gibson told her. Do what you do best.     

“I called her and had a long pep talk with her and reminded her what she’s good at and what they’ll see and what everyone sees that watches her play,” Gibson said. “Just remember those strengths and just to be herself.”   

It worked. Sanchez ignored the pressure and played aggressively. The coaches loved her speed and ability to control the ball with her feet, Sanchez said.   

“She just has this X-factor that you can’t coach,” Gibson said. “Literally, I’m lost for words. Because I don’t even know how to describe the type of player she is. You don’t ever see it. It’s a once in a lifetime.”   

And now Sanchez has an opportunity few in the world ever have. The World Cup is held every four years. Mexico is guaranteed three matches. After finding out she made Mexico’s final roster, Sanchez jumped on the phone with Gibson to share the news.     

Gibson told her that she couldn’t think of anyone who deserves the experience more. Sanchez’s response was to thank her coach and Bengal teammates for helping to push her. She wants to make everybody in American Falls and ISU proud.   

“Now she’s going to work that much harder to make all of us proud of her. It’s always about that, and it’s so authentic when it comes from her,” Gibson said. “That’s who she is.”  


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Free Movie Tonight at ISU

Award winning movie, “If I Have Wings” will be shown this Thursday, May 21, at 6 and 8 p.m. at ISU’s Bengal Theater. Admission is free for this insightful Canadian Film Award winner, where a blind teen dreams of running for his high school’s cross-country track team and must make an alliance with a school troublemaker to achieve his goal. (Rated PG)  All are welcome to attend. Donations are appreciated but not required.  For more information and trailer, go to

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Bengals hire new cross country coach: Poky senior signs with Coe College


Idaho State Director of Athletics Jeff Tingey has announced that Nate Houle has been named the head cross country and assistant   track and field coach. Houle comes to Pocatello after spending time as an assistant coach at Southern Utah and a graduate assistant at Georgia State.       

“On my visit to campus I felt very comfortable with the administration and track and field coaching staff,” Houle said. “I knew Pocatello and Idaho State would be a great fit for me and my family. I used to compete at the Simplot Games in high school and various ISU meets in college. Holt Arena and Idaho State have always felt like home and I couldn’t be more excited to now be a part of the program here.”   

As an assistant at Southern Utah, Houle over saw recruiting efforts and specifically coached the middle-distance and steeplechase events. Within one year of his arrival SUU was ranked No. 27 in 2013 and finished the 2014

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American Falls’ Sanchez makes World Cup roster



“My family is really proud of me,” Sanchez said. “They couldn’t afford to put me on the big club teams so they are proud what I am doing with the resources I have.”   

It was only two months ago that Sanchez was hurrying down to Los Angeles to try out for Mexico’s Under-20 team. She left a big enough impression with the coaching staff that she was called up to the national team in late April.   

Ever since, Sanchez had been fighting to land a spot on Mexico’s roster to travel with the squad to the World Cup in June. Mexico’s first game is against Colombia on June 9 at Moncton Stadium in New Brunswick, Canada. Continue reading

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