Greensburg Salem mourning death of longtime coach Steve Snider

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Wednesday, March 2, 2022 | 9:16 AM


The Greensburg Salem community and Westmoreland County are mourning the loss of a legendary coach, Steve Snider.

His son, Nathan Snider said his dad would often say, “It’s a beautiful day.”

“That was one of his favorite sayings, and it truly is for him,” Nathan Snider said. “He touched a lot of people. He’ll be missed.”

Snider died Monday after a long battle with heart complications. He was 72.

Friends, colleagues and former runners were saddened by the news of his passing. He was a man who touched a lot of lives and was a pillar in the community.

Snider coached the Greensburg Salem cross country and track teams. He also coached at Saint Vincent College and recently helped his son with the Greensburg Salem Middle School cross country team.

“He was like a father to me,” Greensburg Salem Principal David Zilli said. “He was my playground leader in South Greensburg, a teacher. I coached track with him and he was a dear friend.

“He was a role model. Everyone wanted to be around him. He’s the one that started cross country in the county with his ‘Run for Fun’ program in the 1970s.”

Snider, a 1967 graduate of Gateway, developed a successful cross country program at Greensburg Salem, which was highlighted by a PIAA girls championship in 1993. He was in attendance when the Greensburg Salem boys’ team, coached by Nathan, duplicated the feat in 2018.

“Him being there to watch was a special day for me,” Nathan Snider said.

Hempfield cross country coach Jeff Mayo, who was on one of Snider’s first teams (1980), said he was a great man and coach.

“He changed Greensburg Salem from a doormat track program the first season when he coached,” Mayo said. “We went from 1-10 to 8-4 in one season.

“He started conditioning us year round and we were the first Westmoreland County team to do indoors. He was a great motivator and speaker. He’ll be missed.”

Zilli said Snider treated every athlete and every person the same.

“We would celebrate students’ accomplishments,” Zilli said. “If someone would PR (personal record), he would celebrate it. He made sure to meet with every athlete on the team after practice or a meet.”

He was also there to help athletes during traumatic times.

Greensburg Salem grad Samantha (Bower) Singer was preparing for the 2006 PIAA Class 3A championship meet in Hershey when assistant coach Kevin Gatons suddenly collapsed and died on the cross country course on the eve of the race.

Singer said Snider was there to get her through the tragedy.

“He touched so many lives in a positive way,” Singer said. “I still can’t believe it. He was a strong figure for me when Kevin passed.”

But Singer was quick to remember the good times with her coach. He provided the team with saying before every match.

“I kept them all,” Singer said. “I have them packed somewhere at home. There were the ‘Sniderisms.’ Like ‘this ain’t no walkathon.’”

Greensburg Salem girls basketball coach Rick Klimchock said he still uses that saying at his basketball practice. Klimchock spent 10 seasons with Snider as a jumping coach.

“I trained and ran five marathons with Steve,” Klimchock said. “We’d run to Monroeville. He was a dear friend. It’s a sad day. He was a mentor. I learned a lot from him, the late Joe Mucci, Jim Farrell, the late Jim Stewart and Bob Murphy over the years.

“He was an amazing person. I remember when Shane Kenney challenged him to a dip contest. I think Shane stopped at 18 and Steve didn’t stop until he reached 35 or 40.”

Jeff Zidek, Saint Vincent bowling coach and former sports information director, said he recently saw Snider at Saint Vincent talking to the coaches.

“He was a nice guy,” Zidek said. “Everyone knew him. He had a great reputation.”

Added Saint Vincent cross country coach Andrew Herr: “I feel blessed to have worked with Steve for so many years here at Saint Vincent. In his presence, he always made you feel that you were the most important person in the world. He set high standards in terms of effort, attitude and performance and would do everything in his power to help you to succeed. Coach Snider had a strong, positive influence on more people than anyone whom I have ever met. He will greatly missed by the Saint Vincent and Greensburg communities.”

“He was a great man who meant a lot to the students.” Greensburg Salem athletic director and former cross country runner Frank Sundry said. “He treated everyone the same. He made you feel special. He meant the world to Greensburg Salem.”

Nathan Snider said his dad had open heart surgery 15 years ago. He said he battled with different aliments because of medication since.

“He was able to run for awhile,” Nathan Snider said. “When he could no longer run, he switched to walking. He was in and out of the hospital the last two months.”

Singer said she and other alumni will be meeting at 7 a.m. Sunday at Lynch Field and have planned a memorial run in his honor.

“He lived his life through the Lord,” Nathan said. “He was good at what he did.”

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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