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Wheat MS Teacher to Spend Spring Break as Member of Cleburne Railroaders "Faculty"

Wheat Middle School Special Education Inclusion teacher Nik Sanchez will be moving to the outdoor classroom during spring break.

 Sanchez, who has spent the past two seasons as a bullpen catcher for the Cleburne Railroaders, is included in the five-player “faculty” that will be guiding participants through infield, outfield, pitching and hitting fundamentals in a series of Spring Break Clinics at The Depot. Open to ages 6-13, the clinics are set for March 13-17 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Registration Information is posted on the Cleburne Railroaders Facebook page or call 817-945-8705.

                Sanchez is in his rookie year of teaching, after spending the summer—between Railroaders’ road games—observing classroom instruction in Cleburne’s middle school and high school learning camps. A graduate of Lawton, Oklahoma’s Cameron University, where he played baseball for the Aggies, he had decided to add a Texas teaching certification to his Bachelor of Arts degree in social studies.

                “Going into college, I went in as a business major, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do,” Sanchez said. “Teaching and coaching have always been at the back of my head.”

                He received plenty of inspiration from his mother, Melannie Sanchez, who is a fourth-grade teacher at Gerard Elementary.

                “Seeing how much my mom loves teaching was a big inspiration,” he said. “My aunt and uncle are also educators. They said I needed to keep teaching in the family. I applied for a teaching position with Cleburne on my last day of classroom observations. I was just so grateful when I got a call from (Wheat Principal) Mrs. Kampen offering me an opportunity to teach and coach. On July 31, I cleaned out my locker and said goodbye to the Railroaders—and began new teacher orientation on August 1.”

                While he is coaching Yellow Jackets for the first time, Sanchez knows all about the Cleburne black and gold, as a 2017 graduate of Burleson High School. He played football and soccer all through high school and was a four-year catcher for the Elks—one of Cleburne’s long-standing rivals.  

                In his last summer before graduating from college, Sanchez decided he wanted to look into the possibilities of doing something baseball-related and sent an email to the Cleburne Railroaders. He asked specifically about being a bullpen catcher.

                “I got a call inviting me to come to Cleburne, and wound up with a Rookie contract,” he said. “It has been a great experience and opportunity to be a member of the Railroaders. I have used a lot of what I have learned with them in my work with students and student athletes.”

                Sanchez is excited to spend his first spring break—as a teacher—on the ballfield with the Railroaders, working with students. He’ll be back as a bullpen catcher for their 2023 season. Last year, he was “called up” to catch six consecutive games for the Railroaders, filling in for an injured player, wowing fans—and the team—in hitting .313.

                “It’s been exciting to hear Nik share how much he’s loving teaching and coaching,” Railroaders Assistant General Manager Rory Niewenhous said. “I think he’s a great inspiration for kids who want to go on to college while continuing to compete. The guys on our team really love and respect him. Nik has a love for the game, a love for learning and a love for helping others.”  

                As he finishes out his first-year as a rookie teacher, Sanchez is looking forward to what lies ahead. He appreciates being able to work with students in the classroom and in sports.

                “Sports was a big motivator for me when I was in school,” he said. “I want to pass on the importance of academics to all my students. The opportunity to develop kids to be great students—and people—is what motivates me and led me to this profession.”

                “Having a mom as a teacher has been a really good resource in this first year,” Sanchez said. “It’s been fun—I know she’s happy to see me in the classroom. I now have teaching stories I can share with her—after years of hearing her stories. I’m excited to continue on this journey and see where it leads me as a person.”

                He is also grateful to continue in his passion for baseball while growing in his calling as an educator.

                “Baseball will always be a part of my life,” Sanchez said. “After my last game, it hit me that the next day I would be starting on the path I always wanted. My goal as a teacher and coach is to show kids of any age they can have more than one goal--and achieve them if they dream big.”