WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- As the new athletics director at Whitman College, Dean Snider is ready to move ahead with improvements to the athletic program.
"We recently completed our departmental self study, and we have thought deeply about the future of Whitman athletics," Snider said. "Those thoughts are on the table, and now we need to start acting upon them."
"We also have strong support as we move forward," Snider said. "We recently underwent an external review that largely supports our planned initiatives, and we have a college administration that is strongly behind us."
Further integrating athletics in the overall academic mission of the college is a primary directive facing his department, Snider said.
"At the same time we want to provide our student athletes with an excellent, high quality athletic experience," he said. "That means helping them achieve as much success as possible on the field, on the court and in the swimming pool. Iím excited about the opportunity to follow what has been a serious planning effort with improvements focused on providing students with the best possible academic and athletic experience."
His ability to lead Whitman athletics forward, Snider said, will be aided greatly by an experienced coaching staff that includes three Whitman alumni. The staff, not counting its two most recent appointments, is anchored by 10 coaches whose average length of Whitman service is 10 years.
"We have an outstanding group of coaches," Snider said. "They consider themselves educators, and rightfully so. They pursue excellence and work very, very hard at what they do. I am proud to represent them as athletic director, and I will happily work on their behalf."
Once the current volleyball season is over, Snider will relinquish his coaching whistle to concentrate full-time on his administrative duties. His appointment as athletics director last week was effective immediately, but he said he never considered stepping away from his coaching duties at mid-season.
"Finish strong," Snider said. "Thatís a phrase Iíve used over and over again with my volleyball teams for the past 18 years. If youíre in the midst of match, finish strong. If youíre in the middle of a season, finish strong.
|Dean Snider and his father R. Neil Snider, who recently retired after 32 years as president of Trinity Western University|
"So, with my coaching career coming to a close, Iíd like to finish strong this fall. This team is very important to me, and I think itís a group that can contend for the conference championship in the weeks ahead. As a coach and as a team, weíre going to everything possible to put ourselves in a position to realize that potential.
"I have a very able assistant coach in Sharee Coad, but whether you are a coach or player, the one thing you should never do in is walk away from your team," Snider added. "In athletics as in life, you should not walk away from what you started. Thatís the way Iíve lived my life, and I think thatís a good example to set."
As much as he enjoys coaching, Snider said, "This will be my last season on the bench. Being a head coach and an athletics director are two distinct jobs, and in our setting here at Whitman, I donít think this is the time to have one person doing both jobs. We need an athletics director who can give his full attention and pour his heart and soul into our athletic program, and I am ready and willing to do that."
Moving from coaching to athletics administration is a transition Snider has pondered for a few years, influenced in part by the experiences of his father, R. Neil Snider. The elder Snider retired in June after a remarkable 32 years as president of Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia.
"Because of my fatherís work, I grew up in a world where I was constantly looking at the big picture, and where I was constantly reminded of what it means to be a leader," Snider said. "I had the privilege of having a tremendous role model in my father. I watched him lead in the good times as well as the bad times. I watched him make the hard decisions that a leader has to make at times. I saw first-hand what the leadership process looks like in a personís life, in his familyís life, and in the life of the broader community.
"So, filling an administrative role in a college setting is not a foreign concept for me," he said. "I feel this is a natural step, a natural progression in my professional life. On a personal level, I am ready for this, and I eagerly await the challenges that lay ahead."