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Keller Resident Reflects on His Love of the Game and Legacy

NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

April 29, 2020

Keller Resident Reflects on His Love of the Game and Legacy

For Mustang Creek Estates of Keller resident Marv Sanders, most of his life has been about basketball. He is one of the winning-est high school basketball coaches in the country and holds four state titles. He’s also been inducted into multiple sports halls of fame, including the National High School Coaches Hall of Fame and the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame. Coach Sanders had the privilege of celebrating over 800 wins as a high school basketball coach.

Sanders grew up in Indiana, a breeding ground for basketball talent. He went on to play at Valparaiso University and after his freshman year transferred to Western New Mexico University. After first returning to Indiana to coach, he missed the warm weather and went back to New Mexico, making it his home and going on to coach four championship teams at three high schools. While Sanders could make champions, he also prided himself on making good people. He constantly set a high example for his athletes.

“Being a coach means you really had to be thoughtful. I loved the challenge of the game and being a part of those kids’ lives,” said Sanders. “Beyond being a good coach, I really wanted to set a strong example for my players.”

Today Sanders lives in Keller, Texas, to be near his son Mike, who he had the privilege of coaching at Farmington High School and who also went on to play college basketball. According to Mike Sanders, his dad could make any team great because he coached the talent on the court and adjusted his winning formula for each team. The father-son duo also had the privilege of winning a state title together in 1982.

“For my dad, it was the first time he felt more like a father than a coach while on the court. The game came down to two free throws, and I was the one on the line,” said Mike Sanders. “With just five seconds on the clock, I sunk them both.”

“I wanted so much in that moment to just hug Mike. I knew the pressure he was under, and leading up to that winning shot, I knew how missing it would affect him. Once he made the shot, it was such a wonderful feeling,” said Sanders. “I knew I’d created a spark in Mike.”

Sanders is also very close to other players he coached in the past. His first team to win a state championship has even held reunions including their beloved coach. Hatch Valley High School won the title in 1964 with a young Coach Sanders in charge. Danny Martinez played on that team and remembers the strong work ethic of his coach.

“Coach Sanders is the kind of person you wanted to be. In high school, I looked up to him, and I know my teammates did as well. He motivated us to work together and willed us to win,” said Martinez. “He’s the type of man everyone admires and respects, and it was a privilege to be on his team.”

The team got together for their 50- and 55-year reunions. Former teammates traveled from across the country to get together and celebrate their legacy as the first basketball state champions at Hatch Valley High School. Coach Sanders was in attendance for both reunions. Today, many former players continue to be in touch with their old coach.

Sanders’ love for the game and reputation as a great coach continues to live on in New Mexico. The Marv Sanders Invitational, a basketball tournament held annually in Farmington, honors his impact on basketball in the state.

While Sanders’ memory is not as strong as it once was, his love of the game remains unchanged. He still talks vibrantly about his memories as a coach and the players he made an impact on.

“We are so honored to be surrounded by outstanding individuals like Marv. His love and passion for basketball is clear to everyone who meets him,” said Melissa Meyer, executive director at Mustang Creek Estates of Keller. “It’s inspiring to think about the many lives he touched through basketball, and we love that he’s able to stay in touch with many of his players.”

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