Victories on a hockey field or basketball court did not define Kathy Snyder.
Rather, it was the compassion and love she lavished on her family, students and players throughout her 58 years that resonated from testimony after testimony during a memorial service celebrating her life Tuesday at Southern Regional High School.
“Kathy just didn’t care too much about the wins on the field or court,” said Ken Snyder, Kathy’s husband of 27 years. “They were way down on the list.”
During a service which lasted just over two hours inside Southern’s gym, which was three-quarters full, including several hundred seats on the floor, the mantra was a simple one: Kathy Snyder was a success in life because of those who were impacted by her motherly love, precise teaching, coaching tenacity and friendly, often bluntly honest, advice.
“Her spirit lives on,” said her stepson, Brett Snyder, addressing the massive crowd near the end of the service. “Her real trophies are all of you.”
After Southern Regional Superintendent Craig Henry opened the service, legendary Shore Regional coach Nancy Williams, for whom Kathy Snyder played during her famed high school years, talked about Snyder the player — “a ball of contagious energy” and “one of the first to legitimize girls sports.”
“Kathy was never afraid of a challenge,” Williams said. “But despite her success, she was always humble. She had a vibrant personality and an infectious laugh.”
As the podium was turned over to past and present players, as well as colleagues and friends, the love and compassion she poured out on others was reflected back in her honor.
“When I was asked what I wanted to major in when I went to college,” said Jenna Lombardo, who was part of Snyder’s 2006 field hockey and basketball teams, “I said ‘Being Kathy Snyder.’ “
Candace McCallum, a standout player on Southern’s 1994-95 hoops squad, said Snyder “was so much more than a coach.”
“She was a friend, a mom away from home and a shoulder to cry on,” McCallum said. “She taught us not just to better basketball players, but better women. It’s impossible to put into words just what she meant to us.”
Teacher and close friend Sue Sharkey talked about how she first met Snyder when she was 12 years old, hanging out in the hallway, and her life changed for the better once Snyder started talking to her.
“Kathy exuded confidence. She had swag,” Sharkey said. “I was 12 years old when I first met her, but I knew I wanted some of that.”
Later, Sharkey went into how she and Snyder grew together as friends, often spending time talking about their families, their many blessings, and Snyder’s battle with breast cancer.
“She was victorious,” Sharkey said. “But she felt most victorious in her family. Right now, Kathy’s on that great team in heaven.”
Following a visual montage of Snyder’s life on two big screens, daughter Erin Snyder talked about how she, her brother, Brandon, and younger sister, Morgan, were Kathy’s pride and joy as they sometimes ran around the gym.
“Our mom was Southern, and so were we,” she said. “It’s appropriate to have this service here in this gym.”
After the service, roughly 200 of Snyder’s past and present players gathered for a photo in a section of bleachers — just a small picture of the many lives she had impacted during her 35-year coaching career.