BY JEFF FALK
Rob Snyder is caught in a Catch-22 conundrum.
It is Snyder’s goal to get as many kids to participate in athletics as he can. But the more student-athletes he gets to compete in sports, the more challenging his job becomes.
But then again, Snyder has never been one to shy away from hard work, or putting the needs of kids ahead of his own.
Snyder is about a month removed from taking over as Cedar Crest’s new athletic director. His is the story of a local boy making good, locally.
“Sports here are booming,” said Snyder. “People might say the football program is not winning, but Coach (Tom) Waranavage has 65 kids out. It’s the same with our other programs. We’re filling varsity and JV teams at all levels. Kids have pride in their school, and they’re coming out to play.
“Obviously we’d like to see everyone here have a winning season and go to the playoffs,” Snyder continued. “Is that realistic? Probably not. The Lancaster-Lebanon League is a competitive league and we’re playing in the top section. I think we’re on the right path. We have kids who want to play. Any good program is good because of the kids. And I’ve seen that here so far.”
Snyder spent his last ten years as the athletic director at Class AAA Northern Lebanon. He is a 1988 graduate of Annville-Cleona and earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Shippensburg University.
While shopping his talents around, the upwardly-mobile Snyder learned of two openings at neighboring Cedar Crest. When former athletic director John Shaffer was promoted to the position of tenth and 11th-grade principal at CCHS, Snyder was hired for his old spot as athletic director/assistant principal.
“I was actually looking for an assistant principal’s position,” said Snyder. “I was looking to take that next step. They (the CC administration) asked if I would consider interviewing for Coach Shaffer’s job. I said when I took this job that I knew 80 percent of it. I knew the athletic director part of it. The sports and athletic director parts of it are pretty much the same no matter where you go.
“But the scale of things is much bigger,” added Snyder. “There are more sports, more programs, more coaches, more athletes. But there’s more people who help out here, more game managers. And they’re Cedar Crest people through and through. They’re glad to help out.”
Typically in season, Snyder puts in 50-60 hours of work per week, some of which is spent as a game manager. Those hours pretty much come with the territory, Class AAAA school or not.
“I feel that way,” said Snyder to the notion that his current position was the next natural step in the process of a career. “Ultimately, any goal in leadership is to lead, and certainly the opportunity is here,” said Snyder. “Everybody here has been at Cedar Crest and moved up in the district. It’s a five-minute drive. I still might be in the honeymoon period. I’m sure there will be challenges that arise down the road.
“I’m pleased with overall level of participation,” continued Snyder. “And not just from our student-athletes. From what I’ve seen during my three weeks on the job, the students are into it as well. I think that’s been very encouraging.”
One of the differences Snyder has encountered thus far is less emphasis on participation and more on competition. Winning might be expected – dare we say demanded – more in South Lebanon than it is in Fredericksburg.
“I think there’s pressure to win regularly when you’re at a bigger school,” said Snyder. “Cedar Crest is a AAAA school, but it’s one of the smaller AAAA schools. That’s not an excuse, because ultimately you’ve got to go out and win. There’s more people in this community than other communities in the County. But I think you find that (pressure to win) anywhere you go.
“I think the challenge everywhere is that there are high expectations,” Snyder added. “Parents have expectations for their children. Obviously, someone is going to win and someone is going to lose. You are developing students to be successful in life. For people to expect all kids to get scholarships is unrealistic.”
Perhaps Snyder’s biggest challenge as the Cedar Crest athletic director to this point, at least from a logistical standpoint, was serving as the game manager for his first – and the 42nd overall – Cedar Bowl, contested at Ed and Jeannie Arnold Field at Earl Boltz Stadium recently.
“Yeah, that’s correct,” said Snyder. “There’s always some rivalries within the county, but nothing of that magnitude. This place was packed. There were people everywhere.”