Sayra Sanchez

Porterville College's Sayra Sanchez (4) was named to the California Community College Fastpitch Coaches Association's 2020 Academic All-State Team earlier this month.

Embodying the true meaning of being a student-athlete, Porterville College outfielder Sayra Sanchez was named to the Academic All-State Team by the California Community College Fastpitch Coaches Association (3CFCA) last week.

Sanchez, a liberal arts major, was one of just six softball players from the Central Valley Conference to earn the honor by meeting the requirements of having a 3.5 overall GPA and passing a minimum of 24 total units after her initial season of competition. 

A first-generation college student with a 3.7 GPA, Sanchez saw the hard work her parents put in working the fields as a reason why she wanted to make sure she made the most of her education. 

“It all starts at home, you know, watching my parents wake up at four in the morning, having to go to the fields to work. And me as well,” Sanchez, who also works the field, said. “That’s not what I want to do, and my only way out is to do good in school. The unfortunate reality is that if you don’t do well in school this is where you’ll end up at.”

Sanchez said when her mom learned she made the Academic All-State team, she was very proud of her and told everyone she could about it. The Mendota-native said seeing her parents proud also made her feel proud.

“It means a lot,” she said. “My parents expected a lot from my sisters and they weren’t able to give it to them, and for me to give them all of this that I’m doing and doing it all for them, it really makes me proud, as well as them.” 

From the beginning Sanchez worked to put her education first, which is something that playing for Porterville College allowed her to do.

“It’s gotten easier since I started softball at Porterville College because our coaches are very strict on academics and they make us do this binder and we have to write our homework down every single day. And if we don’t then we don’t go to practice,” Sanchez, who takes 15 units, said.

Under head coach Vickie Dugan and associate head coach Gracie Steidley, the Pirates made a point of putting their student-athletes’ educations first. In 2016, PC’s entire softball team was named to the 2015-16 Easton/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Junior College All-Academic Team with a 3.264 GPA.

“I have to give the credit to Coach Gracie Steidley,” Dugan said. “She puts a tremendous amount of time and effort into putting together our academic success strategies. Having Sayra named to the Academic All-State team makes the effort worthwhile. To see how much stronger every player has become academically is worth every minute put in the program. Sayra is so very deserving of the honor and has made all of us very proud.”

Only required three hours of study hall time because of her GPA, Sanchez constantly stayed longer to finish her work knowing she wouldn’t have WiFi available when she got home.

Between school, softball and working the fields, Sanchez said sometimes it is exhausting but prioritizing things helps.

“It is hard,” Sanchez said. “You get home tired but I feel that once I get home and shower, I put my priorities in order. I do my homework and then I get that time to rest. I feel that prioritizing what’s important has helped me the most.” 

Like other players across the country, Sanchez’s sophomore season was cut short because of the coronavirus pandemic. Sanchez said losing the season hurt but she does plan to return next season since the CCCAA restored the season of competition for spring athletes.

“I was honestly heartbroken because that was my last year with PC, I thought,” she said. “So having the game stripped from me, literally, it hurts.”

The stay-at-home order also forced PC to stop in-person instruction and move everything online. Sanchez said it’s made things a little more difficult but she’s staying focused with the help of her coaches and the Canvas Student app.

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