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Emiliano Sanchez gets his shot at the next level
Sierra, MFC Rebels Red product commits to Lincoln University’s 1st-year program
ALUM Emiliano Sanchez
Former Sierra striker Emiliano Sanchez reaches for the ball in a Valley Oak League game against East Union in 2022. - photo by SEAN KAHLER

Emiliano Sanchez bet on himself, and it paid off.

The 2022 Sierra High grad and Manteca FC Rebels Red product has committed to continue his soccer career with Lincoln University out of Oakland.

ALUM Emiliano Sanchez
Former Sierra standout Emiliano Sanchez tries to win possession in a 2021-22 non-league game against Ripon. - photo by SEAN KAHLER

The standout center forward had plans to play for a nearby community college but opted instead to play for his club team while attending a California State University to keep up with his academics. It was at a showcase in Las Vegas this past spring where he caught the eye of Lincoln coach Paul McCallion.

“I was going to play at Delta, but in the last minute I decided to play another year of club just to see if I can get a little more exposure and it really helped me out,” Sanchez said. “A couple coaches contacted me, and one of them was from Lincoln.”

Sanchez is transferring from Stanislaus State, where he began his studies for a kinesiology degree. He is undecided on a major at Lincoln, for now, but is looking into the medical field. Sanchez had hoped to make the team at Stanislaus State this year, but a coaching change put that possibility in doubt.

Although the school has been in existence for over 100 years, Lincoln’s athletics program is going into its third year. The small, private university — with an enrollment of about 350 — made headlines in 2021 when it hired Oakland native and former NBA superstar Gary Payton lead its men’s basketball team.

Lincoln is not affiliated with the NCAA or National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics but has recently been accepted as a member of the South Western States Intercollegiate Conference for four out of the five sports it offers. The football team will remain independent and has varied schedule that includes NCAA Division I opponents.

The soccer team enters its first season with the renown McCallion leading the charge. The Scotsman has had much success coaching at the youth and high school levels and previously coached the men’s and women’s teams at Notre Dame de Namur for 14 years. 

Sanchez was intrigued by the possibility of contributing to a fledgling program.

“That’s a big reason why I picked Lincoln,” said Sanchez, who was also recruited by NAIA universities and JUCOs from Northern and Southern California. “I feel like being there with a program that is starting fresh is probably the best option for me. I’m just excited to travel to wherever they take us.”

The Oaklanders will play their first game on Aug. 13 against Bethseda University. Two weeks later, they’ll be in Honolulu, Hawaii for games against Chaminade University (Aug. 30) and Hawaii Pacific (Sept. 1). 

“We’re staying the week there, and I’m definitely excited about that,” Sanchez said. It will be his first-ever visit to The Aloha State.

In his final year with Sierra, Sanchez tied for the team-high with 14 goals while helping the Timberwolves (17-4-2) reach the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinals.

Sanchez had since kept an open mind when it came to his college prospects, and he could not be happier with where he has landed.

“It’s not a typical, big university, but I do like the fact that the classes are smaller,” Sanchez said. “Ever since the beginning (of the recruiting process), they got me really interested. In my first conversation with (McCallion), I got to talk with him for a while and they seemed to like the way I play and fit into their system.

“The way they talked to me and my family, it was very welcoming. They even took the time to play some table tennis with me when I visited. Everything about it was great.”