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Hail to the Redskins a way of life for UVA Wise's Sanchez

Kevin Mays • Mar 31, 2020 at 5:00 PM

WISE — Corey Sanchez remembers the results of most Washington Redskins games played in his 29 years.

But there is one above all the rest that sticks out in his mind.

It was a Monday night game on Oct. 27, 2014.

The Redskins, in the midst of one of their worst seasons on record, started backup quarterback Colt McCoy.

But under the national spotlight, Washington played its best game of the season and beat the archrival Dallas Cowboys, earning a dramatic 20-17 overtime win on a 40- yard field goal by Kai Forbath.

“There was no way the Redskins should have won that football game,” Sanchez said. “It was like somebody was looking out for us. For me, that was my biggest moment emotionally. I still get emotional when I think about it.”

Sanchez, a lifelong Washington fan and admitted Redskins fanatic, knew there was a reason his favorite team upended its NFC East rival on that particular Monday night.

That reason made him a little more emotional than normal.

The morning before the game, Sanchez’s grandfather died. He, too, had been a lifelong Redskins fan.

“He was a huge influence in my life,” Sanchez said. “He’s one of the main reasons that I’m a Redskin fan.

“Early in my life it was just me and my mom, so my grandparents helped raise me while my mother worked. My grandfather was the male influence in my life. So what he liked is what I liked.

“He loved the Redskins, so I loved the Redskins.”

ALL IN THE FAMILY

Sanchez and his grandfather watched and read just about everything concerning the Redskins.

“He would buy a lot of the Redskin gear and we would be there watching them play,” he said.

His mother, another huge influence in his life, loves the Redskins, too.

“Oh yeah, she’s a Redskin fan,” Sanchez said emphatically. “We still talk about every game.

“I’ll call her and sometimes we’ll talk about the Redskins and what they did before the game, what they did during the game and what they did after the game,” he said with a chuckle.

“It’s a bond that I had with my grandfather and it’s still a bond that I have with my mother. It’s a family thing.”

GAME-CHANGER

Sanchez’s love for the Redskins goes way beyond that of a casual fan.

Growing up in Triangle, Virginia, near Quantico Marine Base in the shadow of Washington, Sanchez had nearly around-the-clock media access to the Redskins.

When he didn’t attend a game, he watched on TV and read about it in the newspaper the next day. He listened to the radio talk shows about the Redskins throughout the week.

After graduating from Forest Park in Woodbridge, Sanchez was looking for an adventure and he found it in far Southwest Virginia, on the campus of Virginia-Wise.

“To be honest with you, I looked for the school the farthest away from me that was still in Virginia and that was it,” he said.

Not only was Virginia-Wise far from his Northern Virginia home, it also was far away in culture, geography and many other elements.

“The first time we came down here, we came up Tacoma Mountain to get to the school and it seemed like the mountain just kept going up,” Sanchez said, laughing. “My mom said, ‘Where in the world are you taking me?’ ”

The culture shock grew more dramatic when Sanchez found out his beloved Redskins did not have the same type of coverage as on the other end of commonwealth. While still in Virginia, Sanchez quickly learned that Washington had to compete with the likes of the Carolina Panthers, the Tennessee Titans, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Atlanta Falcons and the Cincinnati Bengals for NFL game coverage.

“I had to find other ways to follow the Redskins, but fortunately I was able to do that through social media and other ways,” he said.

Still, he entertained thoughts about leaving school after his freshman year.

“I was bored. But then I realized this area gives you back what you put in it,” Sanchez noted.

In his second year of school, he became involved as a student intern in UVA Wise athletics and fell in love with the region.

“I started in the Sports Information Department at the college and started working with Darrell-Dingus Ely and then I met Chris Davis and they were big influences on me as far as working in sports at the college, and I decided that I would stay,” he recalled. “I learned a lot.”

Of course, it didn’t hurt that both Ely, now the school’s assistant athletic director for communications, and Davis, the director of the school’s David J. Prior Convocation Center, are both Redskins fans.

HAIL TO THE REDSKINS

Sanchez, now the assistant director of annual giving at UVA Wise, has adapted to being a die-hard Washington fan in a region with a diverse NFL fan base. And he’s taken being a fanatic to the next level.

Win or lose, after each Redskins game, he goes live on Facebook to give his analysis as a fan on the “Skins” contest. He expresses his pleasure with what he thinks the team did right and his displeasure with what the team did not do well.

“I try to be as (politically correct) as possible. You have to be mindful to who may be watching,” he noted. “There could be kids watching and you don’t want to be disrespectful to anyone.”

One guarantee from Sanchez is whether the Redskins win or lose, he will try to make you laugh. Usually easygoing, Sanchez likes to see people laugh even if it comes at the expense of his beloved team.

“I’m always going to try to make people laugh. Life is better if you’re laughing,” Sanchez said. “That’s what I think I’ve been put on this earth for: to make people laugh.”

In 2016, Sanchez increased his social media presence with Redskins coverage by starting a show, “On the Warpath.” Three years ago, he added a broadcast partner, Amir Baharloo, from Fresno, California.

The show, Sanchez says, is “all things Redskins.”

He recently added “On the Warpath” to Facebook to increase its presence and to give daily updates on his favorite team.

Sanchez estimates he allocates, on average, about two hours of his day to the Washington team.

“It’s something I love and it’s a hobby,” he said. “Everybody has a hobby and this is mine.”

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