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Saying Goodbye to Friend Kathy Snyder

My first real dealings with Kathy Snyder came in the winter of 1984.  She was then Kathy Leslie and in her fifth season as the girls basketball coach at Southern Regional High School and I was in my fifth year as the Sports Director at WOBM. 

The Rams had a very good team that season and I followed them pretty closely.  Thanks to a Jill Spaschak basket in the final seconds they would upset Neptune and win the Shore Conference Championship at Brick Memorial, the last Ocean County team to do so.

I remember the wild celebration on the court afterwards and a couple of days later Leslie appeared on a weekly sports show I used to host.  I thought about that Friday when I first heard that Kathy Leslie Snyder had died suddenly in her sleep at the age of 58.

Kathy Snyder
Kathy Snyder (Bill Normile)
Over the course of 35 years we got to know each other pretty well and we shared more than just longevity in our jobs.  We always talked about family and our children, either in person or on Facebook.

Several years ago when battling breast cancer our conversations turned to that as she knew my wife was a survivor of the dreaded disease.  I was not the least bit surprised she would beat it just like an opponent on the basketball court or field hockey field.  Snyder was a superb athlete before becoming a Hall of Fame coach who guided Ram teams to more than 850 victories in the two sports she loved the most.

However when I think back about her it was a non-descript field hockey game in the fall of 2009 that sums her up the best.  I was there because my daughter Alex was the captain of what would be a one-win Toms River South team.  We were playing at Southern who would go on and win the Class A South title.

The game was lopsided and in the final moments Southern kept getting penalty corners but could not convert.  Snyder was unhappy with her team’s performance and despite the big lead was loud and intense in the final minutes which surprised many of our parents.  However I was not surprised because by then I knew her pretty well.  My line about Snyder was she did not coach girls,she coached sports.  It was meant to be a compliment and it still is.

Today I will join the many who will gather at Maxwell Funeral Home in Manahawkin to pay their final respects. Tomorrow night there will be a memorial service in the 11/12 gym at the school.  By then it will be clear to her husband Ken and children Erin, Brandon and Morgan that their wife and mother was more than just a teacher and coach.  She was someone who touched the lives of many and has left a legacy that will last forever.

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