Glenwood’s Joaquin Sandoval commits to University of Wyoming
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Glenwood Springs senior Joaquin Sandoval’s story unfolds like an inspiring sports novel, filled with determination, family influence and a passion for football. His commitment to the University of Wyoming on Nov. 8 marks a new chapter in an already impressive athletic career.
The tenured quarterback’s journey in sports is deeply intertwined with his family’s influence, particularly his father, Estevan. Estevan’s own experiences with football shaped his belief in the sport’s transformative power.
“I grew up in central California where there were gangs and drugs,” he said. “I know for a fact that football helped keep me off the streets. I figured, ‘Hey, I’ll pass this ball on when I have kids one day.'”
This family legacy propelled Joaquin into the world of athletics from a young age. His dedication and natural ability were evident early on.
“We definitely encouraged him to be the best athlete he could be, but it didn’t take much,” Estevan said. “After probably the third grade, you could just tell he was hooked and wanted to be a really good athlete.”
He recognized his son’s talent and passion for football early in his life.
“He was able to out race me at an early age,” he said. “The moment he put the pads on, he was out there making plays, but you could really tell he loved the game when he started coming home and turning football on the TV.”
In high school, Joaquin’s skills flourished. Starting at quarterback and defensive back throughout his high school tenure, he racked up impressive statistics: 4,874 total yards, 59 touchdowns, 101 total tackles, and four interceptions. This versatility also extended to track and field, demonstrating his all-around athletic prowess.
His path, however, was not without its hurdles. The COVID-19 pandemic and multiple coaching changes presented significant challenges.
“It was definitely a roller coaster,” he said. “With COVID happening my freshman year and having four different coaches since my freshman year, it was definitely an experience.”
Despite these obstacles, his talent shone brightly, catching the eye of his then-coach, Pat Engle. He remembers a specific practice that showcased Joaquin’s exceptional ability.
“We were at practice thinking that we were going to have to change our entire offense because our quarterback at the time got hurt,” Engle said. “Honest to god, I turned around at practice and watched him throw one of the prettiest passes that I had seen in a long time, and I told him to get over here … In my 28 years of coaching, I had never seen teammates cheer for a quarterback because his passes were so on the money.”
He also admired Joaquin’s unique combination of attributes.
“There are a lot of kids with talent. There are even less kids with talent and maturity, and it’s rare to find kids with talent, maturity and the willingness to work hard,” Engle said. “To watch him as an athlete and know him as a person, I have been very blessed.”
Beyond football, Joaquin’s first love was soccer, influenced by the legendary Cristiano Ronaldo. His decision to wear the No. 7 jersey is a tribute to his soccer idol.
As he prepares to join the University of Wyoming, his choice reflects more than just an athletic decision. It signifies his connection to the community and his desire for personal growth.
“When I visited, it was a place where I feel not only the coaches are going to make me a better person, but the people are going to make me a better person,” he said. “It’s a great community, and it’s pretty similar to Glenwood Springs. It feels like home.”
While the town of Laramie awaits his arrival, the senior said he is focused on his upcoming track and field season.
“I’m not done yet at Glenwood,” Joaquin said in reference to the upcoming season. “I still have some work to do here.”
Aspen Community Foundation selected 68 non-profit organizations spanning from Aspen to Parachute that will receive a portion of its $835K Community Grant this year.