It’s a weight off of everyone’s shoulders.

Yvonne Sanchez was named UNM women’s basketball coach Friday, taking over for Don Flanagan, who resigned April 4.

Many players said they were nervous not knowing who their coach would be next season, but after the announcement the tension was lifted.

“I think the fear of playing for someone who did not recruit you is a scary thing,” sophomore Emily Stark said. “We were stressed out about finding out who our coach would be, but it’s a relief now knowing we can keep working with someone we know and someone who has had our backs for years.”

Sanchez has been with UNM since 2000 and has been an assistant coach for the past nine seasons.

Sanchez said it eased players’ minds to find out that she would succeed Flanagan.

“It’s been a stressful week — probably more for them than is has been for me,” she said. “They have been working really hard in the weight room and during workouts not knowing what was going to happen.”

Even though players on the current roster are familiar with Sanchez, Stark said she expects to see changes in the system.
“I think it makes it easier now that we already know the personality of our coach,” she said. “When you get a head coaching job, it changes your philosophy when you are no longer an assistant. It’s good to have the continuity, but it will also be a very different coach.”

Sanchez said she looks forward to running practices and taking charge of a program.

She said she plans to make UNM a more physical, intimidating force.

“My players are definitely going to work hard,” Sanchez said. “It’s going to be a physical style of play. When teams get done playing against UNM, they are hopefully going to be feeling it the next day.”

Sophomore Jourdan Erskine said the team is turning the page from Flanagan to Sanchez. She said the transition to the new coaching staff will be more familiar than foreign.

“I’m sure she is going to change a little, but … we all have a really good relationship with her,” Erskine said. “It will be weird not having Coach Flanagan, but they have a lot of similarities.”