Events occur in the sports world sometimes that remind us of the shocking reality that sports are not life but rather a pleasant diversion.
They allow us to focus our attention on something other than the everyday grind of our lives. However, sometimes we are brought back to the harsh reality of what is truly vital in our lives.
This was the case with the recent passing of Mount Aloysius College women's soccer coach Barry Snyder. At age 24, Snyder's life was cut tragically short this past week. Knowing him from the time he was a youngster and watching him grow up playing soccer with my son, I was given the opportunity to see him emerge as a top-flight soccer player and a successful young man who put his faith, family, and friends in front of everything.
Snyder grew up playing in travel and classic teams and as a 2004 graduate of Hollidaysburg Area High School, he was an outstanding player for the Golden Tigers. He served as captain, received the MVP award and was a first-team MAC All-Star. He went on to play soccer at Grove City College.
His drive and intensity earned him the opportunity not only to be a four-year starter but also to be named MVP in his senior year along with second-team all-conference honors. Snyder loved the game and played with incredible enthusiasm and intensity. He was the consummate team player as well as a very intelligent player.
After his graduation from Grove City, Snyder did not want to leave the game. He stepped into the unenviable position as the Mount Aloysius women's soccer squad, undertaking work with a team that had been non-competitive with league foes in the past.
He brought his signature intense work ethic to the women's program. There were some growing pains as the team had lost some games by 10 or more goals, but he was not disheartened. During this past season his hard work became obvious on the field. The Mounties were a very highly competitive team as Snyder looked at recruiting from within the area and the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference. They were battling in games with most being decided by only a one or two goal differential.
Following this past season, Snyder resigned his position to complete his U.S. Air Force officer training school. He was commissioned second lieutenant, and he was assigned to intelligence school at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas.
The loss of Snyder was far more than a loss to the soccer community. It was a tragic loss to everyone who knew this special young man. Condolences go out to his family.
BG needs coaches
Bill James coached Snyder in travel soccer leagues for a number of years. James, head coach of the Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic soccer squad, where he initiated the program and coached for five years, has resigned his position. James not only coached during the fall season but usually had the boys entered in indoor play as well as in the PA West Spring Travel League to promote their development.
Although leaving BG, James does not rule out the possibility of coaching again elsewhere at the high school level. James has been involved in AYSO and youth soccer for more than a quarter century.
BG will also see a new face at the helm of the girls program. Current coach Cheryl Monthony will not return for the 2011 season. She had taken over the program from its original founder, Tim Sussengill, who had served as the founder of the Altoona program and served as its coach for more than a decade.
The BG girls had some promising years under Monthony when Amanda James and several other key players helped them to be competitive in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference. However, following their graduation, the team had more difficulty competing in the LHAC. Monthony also had helped to develop the team through year-round efforts with indoor teams following the official fall season as well as outdoor travel teams.
Both positions are open and being advertised.
Indoor season ends
The indoor soccer season has wound up with the final major indoor tournament, the Spring Meltdown, completed.
Outdoor PA West play will begin Sunday, April 3, and run through the first weekend of June. A high number of teams look to be registered this year in outdoor play, with our area having travel players represented from the U-8s up through the U-19s in both boys and girls play.