Get to Know Westminster’s Athletic Director, Cory Snyder

The road to becoming Westminster’s AD and how he has adapted to COVID.


Courtesy of Cory Snyder

Coach Snyder played four years of football at Washington University in St. Louis.

As one might imagine, Cory Snyder has always loved sports from a young age.

“Growing up I played everything,” said Snyder. “In high school [In New Carlisle, Ohio] I played a couple years of basketball, four years of baseball, and four years of football. At WashU (Washington University in St. Louis), I played four years of football and one year of baseball.”

Though his competitive nature and love for athletics defined a large portion of his childhood, even into college, a career path involving sports was not something that Snyder pursued at first. Instead, when he left home to attend the prestigious Washington University in St. Louis, Snyder pursued a job in the medical field.

“When I first left Ohio and came to WashU, I thought I was going to be a doctor. That was my goal; that was what I thought I wanted. Then I took organic chemistry the first semester of my sophomore year, and I was like, ‘I don’t want to do this,’” said Synder (A completely understandable reaction to those of you who don’t know what organic chemistry is).

Instead, God turned him towards teaching.

“I’ve always enjoyed helping people with their homework, and I liked teaching and athletics, so I said, ‘I’ll become a teacher and a coach’—which is not why you go to WashU. The tuition you pay to go to WashU isn’t to get a teachers salary, but that was the direction that God pushed me in, so from there I was all in,” said Snyder.

After graduating from college, Coach Snyder immediately came to Westminster in 2001 and began coaching football and teaching. He was at Westminster for fifteen years, and during that time he moved on from teaching to take a registrar job in the upstairs office. At this time, in 2011, Snyder was also Westminster’s head football coach. Even though he had found success doing what he loved, he began to feel like something needed to change.

“It got to the point where I was comfortable. Westminster was a comfortable place, football was going well, I had kind of done my thing with the registrar job, and I was just like, ‘I still have 20-25 years left in my career. I can’t do the same thing for the next 20 years.’ I felt kind of stagnant. I felt like I needed a challenge and a change in order to grow,” said Snyder.

Although he loved his time at Westminster, Snyder decided to get out of his comfort zone by becoming a physical education teacher and football coach for Francis Howell High School. Only two years later, however, the Westminster athletic director job opened up.

“If I was going to get into administration and into athletic administration, I knew there wasn’t a better job for me than Westminster. It felt like God was calling me back [to Westminster] and that door opened, and even though my time at Howell was even shorter than I thought it was going to be, and probably shorter than I wanted it to be—there were still things I wanted to do there and accomplish—God’s timing is not always your timing, and I felt a strong call to come back and take this job,” said Snyder.

Despite Snyder’s goal of moving into administration, it still wasn’t easy for him to give up one of his first loves: coaching.

“As an athlete, you put your identity sometimes in your sport. The same thing happens with coaches. You live and die with the performance of 18 year-olds. For me to walk away from coaching was really hard because that’s where I put my identity. But this is what I knew was going to happen [moving into administration]. This is what God was calling me to,” said Snyder.

Coach Snyder is now taking on his third year as Westminster athletic director, and while sometimes the hours are long, he has loved his time spent as the leader of Westminster’s athletic programs.

One of Snyder’s favorite parts about being an athletic director is being able to witness the growth in the young men and women that he encounters over the years.

“I was here for fifteen years and coached a lot of kids. Watching those kids come back as adults who have jobs and are parents and just seeing where God has taken them [is one of the things I love most about being a part of the athletic department],” said Snyder.

However, his more overarching goal is for these young adults to develop a love for Christ.

“There is a short term experience of athletics which is about the fun and intensity of games and winning, but there is also the long term that we are shooting for: we want you to be men of God and women of faith. We want you to be great husbands and wives and mothers and fathers. To see that happen in the long term is awesome. Those are really the things I love,” said Snyder.

Although the athletic director job has never been a walk in the park, the coronavirus pandemic this year has thrown even more of a wrench into the job description.

“2020 has been hard. COVID has been hard. But, a lot of times, the hard things produce growth. We’ve done things this year that we never would have done if COVID hadn’t forced us to, and they are really good things. For example, we broadcasted football games, soccer games, had announcers, and we are putting together a student-based broadcast team for winter sports. We never would have done that [without COVID],” said Snyder.

The pandemic has also changed the time requirements for the athletic department.

“We have to have a record of everybody that comes to events. We’ve been utilizing QR codes and sign ins. We are actually using a digital ticketing solution this winter. Usually, we can split nights of supervision, but with COVID, we have to have an administrator at every event because we have to do check ins everywhere and monitor compliance with mask-wearing and social distancing. We’ve all been working five nights a week when we can usually split up the work. If I had to sum it up, I would say it’s like crisis management. With all these new processes and protocols and screening athletes everyday, it takes an enormous amount of time, and that’s time we can’t be in the office. With games having to be rescheduled, teams not participating, and constant changes, [it just takes a lot more time],” said Snyder.

As an athletic director, Coach Snyder prioritizes good character both on and off the sports field.

“It’s going to sound cliche, but it’s the ten pillars, especially the first three. We want our athletic programs to honor Jesus Christ in all things, we want to encourage our student athletes to model Christian character that defines who we are, and we want you guys to be good students in conduct, not just getting good grades but also your classroom behavior. If you’re an asset or liability to your teacher, we want to make sure we provide a great experience in the here and now, but we are balancing that with the understanding that there is a bigger picture. There are things that athletes are going to take away from this experience that have nothing to do with the here and now but will impact them for a lifetime,” said Snyder.

Coach Snyder’s goals for Westminster’s athletic programs and desire to see long term growth in its athletes stems from his own first hand experience of the positive impact sports can have on a young life.

“I like to use my story. After my freshman year of football, [at WashU] I was going to quit. I was miserable. I got beat up by seniors everyday at practice. It was hard. When I look back, now I realize, football was the one hard thing in my life, and I wanted to quit. God used football to teach me grit, resiliency, how to handle disappointment and failure, and he also taught me how to handle success. It taught me leadership skills; things that I use every day in my life now,” said Snyder.