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Meridian High School Basketball Coach, Jeff Sanor Leads his team to win State Championship

Article by Kristen Larson

Photography by Jonni Armani + Hal Coburn

Originally published in Meridian Lifestyle

There is a heart-rending scene in the 1986 basketball movie, Hoosiers.  Right before the championship game the players claim an intention to win the state title for all the small schools that couldn’t be here. This message strikes a universal chord about the possibility of triumph for all the underdogs in the world. It’s in this same vein that Coach Jeff Sanor credits the Meridian High School basketball team for their recent championship victory.

Sanor is referring to the 2021 5A State Title that Meridian High School claimed this year; an accomplishment fraught with grit and determination after going up against schools with larger populations.  “Meridian just perseveres. We keep coming back and giving those others schools a run, and we did it again this year which was great!”

According to Sanor the Meridian Basketball program consists of three key components: citizenship, sportsmanship, and competitive excellence.  Sanor explains, “We center everything we do around these pillars; Citizenship: ‘Always striving to do things the right way and setting a great example for others’. Sportsmanship: ‘Honoring the game of basketball at all times.’ And Competitive Excellence: ‘Bringing our very best to whatever we do’.”

These three pillars are not left out on the court.  “I’m teaching kids how to compete, and basketball is the platform that I get to use.  If they learn how to compete they can go into any arena, whether its sports or business. They have a really good idea of what it’s going to take to accomplish what they want to accomplish.”

Idaho native Sanor has strong roots in the Treasure Valley. A Boise High graduate (two-time conference and state player of the year), he continued his sports legacy playing at both the University of Washington and Boise State University. As a former student athlete, Sanor developed his coaching chops after reconnecting with former coaches, and at a local youth basketball club, Boise Slam, before entering the high school coaching arena.

“As a high school coach one of the things I’ve learned is that everybody’s situation is different. Kids nowadays are dealing with so much more than I ever dealt with at their age. There’s so much outside pressure. Every family is different, and every one of these kids is facing their own personal challenges.  Quite honestly, it’s admirable how they try to not let it affect their goals.”

Juggling coaching, work, and family is a task that Sanor takes to heart, especially being a coach and a dad, a role that can be difficult to navigate but one that he has sage words to offer.

“I give this advice to other coaches who are coaching their kids. Your kid plays more for their parent than they play for anyone else. When a kid is critiqued or coached from the stands or corrected by a parent, there’s a hidden message that they’re letting their parents down. It’s important not to blur the lines between coaching and parenting.”

Now that Sanor has firmly placed Meridian back in its rightful place, what are his plans for next year?

“What I want to do with Meridian is to have it be one of the most respected sports programs in the state.”  We look forward to the 2022 season and Meridian’s continued successes.