It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Jimmy Sanchez, who served as an assistant instructor in the Gompers Judo program for the past twelve years. Mr. Sanchez was a graduate of Gompers Middle School, and returned as a paraprofessional, first working with bilingual students and, more recently, special education.
Given the overwhelming demands on educators, no one expects them to stay after hours and assist with after school programs as a volunteer. However, that is exactly what Mr. Sanchez did. His importance to the Gompers Judo program cannot be overstated.
As an activity in the Los Angeles Unified School District, we are required to have a staff member present during practice. For twelve years ,he supported the program both on and off the judo mat. He earned a judo green belt and assisted in teaching judo throws and matwork. Mr. Sanchez also managed the Gompers Judo instagram account, which brought substantial visibility and donations to our program that supported team uniforms, tournaments and educational activities.
Gompers Judo trips, an important part of the program, combine judo practice and competition with educational experiences. He accompanied the team as a chaperone on many events, from the 2014 and 2015 AAU Judo Nationals in Kansas City, to Washington, DC. in 2016 to, most recently, the state capital in Sacramento. He even drove on our road trip, from Los. Angeles to practices in Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, hiking in the canyons and the students’ (and Jimmy’s) first rodeo.
In addition to his commitment to education, Jimmy was a gifted artist. The designs of our Gompers Judo t-shirts, pins and stickers all came from him. If you were really lucky, you received one of his hand-drawn Christmas cards.
Jimmy was usually the person behind the camera instead of in front of it. He wanted to put our students front and center. As he explained it,
I want people to know that we have good kids here at Gompers. There are good kids in the regular education program and good kids in the special ed program, too, the kind of kids anyone would be proud of. They don’t get enough recognition and attention and that’s what I like about Gompers Judo, it’s something for those kids who are acting right and doing good.– Jimmy Sanchez
We have had a few people ask about donations in Jimmy’s memory. If you would like to donate to support Gompers Judo students, you can make your tax-deductible donation through the Strong Mind Strong Body Foundation here.
Memorial services will be held July 29, 2023. Any Gompers Judo students or alumni who wish to attend should contact AnnMaria De Mars or Jose Gonzalez for details.