Meet Gique Joel Sanchez
Founder & Executive Director at Legacy Volleyball Club and Legacy Athletics
Tell us about yourself.
"Honestly, I can sit here and write forever. I drafted about 8 different things to say for this interview but here’s the short story:
Growing up I was...
- Smart, athletic, ambitious and a thinker.
- I was sad, alone and confused.
- And the biggest one that moved me the most: I was poor.
- My experiences in life mixed with the conditions and feelings mentioned created an unbelievable hunger for change and opportunity for those that do not have. A vision for technology, athleticism and social development that I did not see anywhere else around me. Working for the non profit scene in New York City placed me at the front lines of it all. I get to see, hear and feel with people on a daily basis and it moves me! It creates a tremendous amount of momentum in me that pushes me to work 28/8 — which is my motto.
- I know what it is to be gifted (technology) but feel rejected by society.
- I know what is is to be judged because of my physical traits (You usually have to be tall to play volleyball and I am barely 5’6).
- I know what it is to live in the “hood” with dreams and hopes.
That’s my short story."
How have the projects you've worked on combined science & art?
"All of my ideas have come from the recognition of a need in my community. I currently work for Phipps Neighborhoods as a Program Director in the Soundview Area of the Bronx. I have been there for 6 years now and through surveys, conversations and simply watching them work, found out that these children, ages 5 to 21, had so much more in their minds than just basketball. With that In mind, I launched a “STEAM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) project at the site which has been a hit within the group!
The idea is simple: Ask the children to imagine something they want and would love to bring to life then draw it.. It could be a car, a house, a friend, a sibling. After drawing it, they would then think about how to bring it to life. How big should it be. We thought them how to create a blue print with measurements and overall design. After a ton of trial and error (LOTS lol), we were ready for the next step. Using cardboard boxes from the meals we receive from the city, we would begin to shape these boxes into the items we wanted using the measurements and information from the blueprints. Eventually, the idea is to grab a cardboard box made car and make it move… Make it live! The dream: Robotics.
That short story is just one of the many things I had led in my time at Soundview. On a daily basis, I am directing an PBL (Project Based Learnig) / STEAM based after school program for children 5-12, academic enrichment and recreational program for 13-21, providing educational and life enhancing programming for adults up to 99. Additionally, I spend a lot of time with community stakeholders (Politicians, school officials, local businesses, city agencies) figuring ways to provide more for the underserved communities in the Bronx, once I am done there.
I am the Executive Director of Legacy Athletics, which focuses on building children by providing athletic training, educational enrichment activities not often found in our community, and social development opportunities that tie everything together. This will be my life’s work: My legacy. Additionally:
- I am the Head Coach at Preston High School where I coach and mentor girls (it’s an all girls school) and finally,
- I am the Chief Executive Officer of a small start up called Geeks Keep, which feeds my “geeky” tech side that is often hidden underneath all of the things I do.
- What do I do when I am not at work,I think and study. A lot."
How did you become the founder of Legacy Athletics?
"I am the Founder of Legacy Volleyball Club and Legacy Athletics. The original idea came about when I was 14 years old and the name was "Sky High Academy". I wrote the concept and tons of ideas when I was younger out of anger and sadness. At some point in my life, I really wanted to play sports, get involved and try something new. Most of my friends were in teams, clubs or other extracurricular activities, except me. My parents, as well as many other people who I came to meet and learn about, could not afford to pay thousands of dollars to get into these organizations. Then later in life, I became the coach at Preston High School. It was the end of our first season, during which we won the championship!
I encouraged parents and players to join these organizations. I figured they could afford it - I was wrong. They quickly came back to me telling me it was way too expensive and if I could start my own. That's when I looked back at my "archives" (my journal that I've kept for the last 15 years), and pulled it what is now known as Legacy Volleyball.
The impact was immediate: It was meant to serve 12 families... & It now serves over 2,500 and counting! The difference: We do a whole lot for a ton less. We are a true non-profit focusing on the student-athletes athletic, social and educational achievement. My staff is composed of like-minded people, who shared my experience and many are coaches that I coached while coming up (for free!)."
What does being a gique mean to you?
"I believe being a gique means being the complete package. Someone that understands the waves of the future, socially adept and a life explorer. We think outside and then recreate the box; We are true change agents."
Any words of wisdom?
"There are very little things deemed absolute failures in life. I consider negative outcomes learning opportunities. I look back at these things only to figure out what could have made a difference instead of dwelling on the fact that it did not work. Always look ahead.
Dreams are a wonderful thing. You will never know unless you try. We only live ONCE! 28/8."