Donavin Sanchez knew he’d never be tall. He knew he’d never be perfect. And that’s why the Portales High senior focused in on golf four years ago.
Now, his choice is taking him west, as Sanchez signed a letter-of-intent to play for Western New Mexico University next year.
“In my junior high years, I played everything I could without interfering with golf,” said Sanchez. “I decided (in high school) it would be nice if I could play golf at a Division-I college.”
The Mustangs are Division II, but Sanchez said he settled on WNMU because he had familarity with some of his future teammates and liked the coaching staff.
Portales golf coach Andy Correll said it was pretty obvious Sanchez was going to be golfing after his high school career was done.
“I think it’s been a dream of his the whole time,” said Correll. “Just seeing his scores throughout the year, I knew somebody would definitely be looking at him.”
Correll said he remembered his first stint as golf coach in Portales, when he would see Sanchez and current Portales senior Will Archibeque impress at Portales Country Club.
That was back when Sanchez played everything — city league football and basketball, Little League baseball, and so on through junior high.
But Sanchez always figured he’d end up being around his current stature of 5-foot-8, 145 pounds, and he knew that wasn’t enough to compete in other sports.
“I knew I never had the size,” Sanchez said. “To play baseball, you have to have some decent size. I took up golf and started playing as much as I could.”
The challenge is always there on the course, he said. You could go 5-for-5 in baseball, or hit every shot in basketball, but Sanchez said the perfect golf game doesn’t exist.
“You can get better every day,” Sanchez said. “You’re never going to shoot perfect. You can always try and beat what you did before.”
Correll said though golf is an individual sport, Sanchez provides leadership by example.
“He’s definitely been our No. 1 all of this year for sure,” Correll said. “He raises everybody’s game because they want to play as well as he does. He’s one they look up to.
“Having a kid like him is good for a program.”
Sanchez is the first Portales player to sign a letter-of-intent since Kevin Welch signed with West Texas A&M in 2004. Sanchez is hoping he can fill Welch’s shoes in another way — Welch followed up his signing by winning the medalist honor at the Class 1-3A state tournament.
But it will be tough at the University of New Mexico, he admitted, much tougher than a forgiving course like Portales Country Club.
“You can hit an awful shot and still be OK in Portales,” Sanchez said. “You can hit a not-so-bad shot at UNM and be in bad shape.”