In 2016, if you were to ask College of the Canyons women’s soccer midfielder Crystal Sanchez if she wanted to continue playing soccer, her answer would be a hesitant “no.”
Picking up soccer at the age of four because she wanted to play with her older sister, Sanchez became infatuated with the game she now calls her love and passion.
“I remember watching my older sister play on an AYSO team and just watching her play made me so jealous because I wanted to be out there too,” Sanchez said. “I wanted to follow in her footsteps.”
Born and raised in North Hills, Sanchez attended Bishop Alemany High School for her first two years of high school. Sanchez then transferred to Northridge Academy for her junior year, only to return to Alemany to complete her senior year.
Playing on varsity for three years split at Alemany and at Northridge Academy, Sanchez was disappointed, but not devastated when she found out that she was not eligible to play varsity for Alemany due to CIF transfer rules. Sanchez had no other choice but to play on the junior varsity squad to finish her senior year.
Graduating in the spring of 2016, Sanchez committed to play for California State University Northridge to continue her soccer career.
Redshirting her freshman year at CSUN, Sanchez had a hard time adjusting to the coaching style of her coach at CSUN and decided that she would hang up her cleats for good.
But after watching her best friend and now COC teammate Jennifer Roney play a game at Alemany, fate stepped in, according to Sanchez.
She took a chance and introduced herself to Canyons women’s soccer coach Justin Lundin.
“I was still figuring out if I wanted to play soccer when I saw Justin in the stands and I just had to approach him. It was fate,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez described her situation at CSUN and informed Lundin that she would like to try out for the Cougars.
“I felt it wasn’t over for me so I did what I did and he was super positive and gave me a bunch of flyers and his contact info and told me to come and try out,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez called the move “one of best things I have done for myself.”
In her first year at Canyons, Sanchez led the Cougars in assists with six and finished the year with seven goals, ranking her second on the team with 20 points.
“I want to set an example for my teammates and be someone that they can look up to,” Sanchez said. “Sometimes I’m a little shy, but I can’t be that person on the team. I want to be able to motivate my teammates and push them, and I always want to remind them to never give up.”
After one year at Canyons, Sanchez has already established herself as a leader, donning a captain band, and has made some new goals for herself as well.
“I would say I want to fight more this year,” Sanchez said. “Because I want to commit somewhere and continue my soccer career at a four-year university. I also want to be able to take the team as far as I can this year because I feel like the program deserves more recognition.”
Entering her sophomore year at COC, Sanchez constantly reminds herself of the decision that could have altered her life and wants to take full advantage of every opportunity that she gets to show what she’s made.
“For the past two years I always think about the people that can’t play or don’t play,” she said. “The way I think about it is that this might be my last time stepping on the field and I don’t want to spend any time wasting it.
“I intend to play this sport for as long as I can.”