Coach Snyder gets double the championships with two varsity teams

GUILDERLAND –– Curtis Snyder is the first Guilderland coach to win two sectional championships in one school year. He is the head coach for two different varsity teams –– girls’ soccer and boys’ tennis.

Snyder, a ninth-grade science teacher at Guilderland High School, led the girls’ soccer team to its inaugural Class AA title last fall, and then coached the boys’ tennis team to a Class A championship last May.

“I feel really lucky, blessed to have such great athletes,” Snyder said recently. “Some coaches don’t get so lucky.”

Snyder has taught at Guilderland for 17 years, and started his head-coaching career with the modified soccer team for middle-school students. He coached the freshman basketball team for 12 years before it was cut from the school budget, and he coaches an under-14 team for the Guilderland United Soccer Club.

So, there was a time when Snyder coached four different teams during a year. Seems a little excessive, no?

“I’m good at time management, maximizing my time,” said Snyder. “I’m always preparing my teams and putting out fires. I’m good at coaching, I enjoy it, and interacting with the kids is great. It’s just like teaching. You pass on the knowledge.”

Snyder started coaching the boys’ varsity tennis team in 2004, and then took over the varsity girls’ soccer team in 2011. The Dutch tennis team won its third sectional title under Snyder this year, but the soccer championship was extraordinary because it was the first in program history.

“The two sports have different demands, but there are similarities,” Snyder said. “Both teams have athletes that play their sports all year long. Everyone plays their best, and always as a team.”

What are the differences between coaching boys and girls?

“Mainly, girls are more into team bonding,” Snyder said. “The boys will bond, but not as well. Boys can beat each other up on the field, really go at it, and be really physical. Girls tend to be more personal when it comes to physicality.”

Soccer and tennis are poles apart, so which sport does Snyder enjoy more?

“I was more successful at soccer, so it’s truer to my heart,” said Snyder, who played collegiate soccer at the State University of New York College at Geneseo. “Both sports have challenges, but soccer has more pressure because more people pay attention to it.”

Both of Snyder’s varsity teams had to beat the defending champion –– Shaker for soccer and Bethlehem for tennis –– to win a championship.

“It’s sweeter that way,” Snyder said. “The soccer season was an unbelievable ride. The goal was to make the finals.”

Shaker had knocked out the Dutch in the 2011 playoffs after a round of penalty kicks. “So, beating Shaker this time was very emotional,” said Snyder. “We all believed in winning, and we brought the school its first girls’ soccer championship.”

Guilderland advanced all the way to the state semifinals before losing in a penalty-kick round to Webster Thomas.

As for the tennis team, “We were able to beat a more experienced Bethlehem side,” Snyder said. “It was special. We had younger players.”

Snyder’s father, Donald, also a Guilderland science teacher, started Guilderland’s soccer program many years ago, so he was always around soccer and coaching. “It just felt natural for me to become a coach,” Curt Snyder said.

Even though his father has long since retired, Snyder listens to his father’s advice and criticisms during the Guilderland soccer season. Curt Snyder says his father’s insight helps the team.

“Don is a huge influence on me, and we talk all of the time,” said Snyder. “I’m very lucky to have him in my life. I think being his son might intimidate some people when it comes to us strategizing about soccer, but that’s part of our relationship.”

Soccer season is right around the corner. Snyder will stay up late to diagram plays, coordinate team trips, and to make sure everything is smoothed out.

“I like to keep busy,” he said. “I’d just like to thank my wife for putting up with all of the time I’m away from home.”

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