Upper Sandusky native Jerry Snodgrass (class of 1973) was well known as the boys basketball coach and later athletic director at Findlay High School. He became close enduring friends with one of his players who want on to stardom in the NFL, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Jerry also coordinated Ohio High School Athletic Association football playoff games held in Findlay, and found time to be a commentator on televised basketball originated by the WTLW/WOSN group from Lima. It was through these roles that I got to know him and forge a solid friendship.
I admired his enthusiasm and detail driven approach to every task and was elated when he joined the OHSAA as an assistant director in 2008 before ascending to the Executive Director post ten years later. During his decade as an assistant I saw his “hands on” style deliver superior and creative results in state basketball and baseball tournaments (among others), ensuring great experiences for all stakeholders.
When the popular Dr. Dan Ross stepped down as the head man, Snodgrass stepped forward to put his touch on a position that had grown positively under the previous administration. Both men saw that getting out of the Columbus office for first hand interaction around the state was key to advancing the mission, message, and image of the organization.
Jerry took this to a new level as he began to interact with everyone from administrators to fans to student groups to the state legislature. “So many folks don’t understand who we are and what we do. We administer athletics by following the direction of our member schools. We must find creative ways to deliver our message,” he’s often said.
He even had a young intern associate teach him to use Twitter. “I’m blown away by the number of people we reach through something I previously knew almost nothing about.”
One ongoing visible example of creative message delivery is the Golden Megaphone program where enthusiastic sportsmanlike student cheering sections are recognized and receive a visit from Snodgrass who immerses himself into a game night situation, often when a school is playing a big rival. Such was the case when Botkins hosted Anna in boys basketball back on Jan. 10.
When I tuned into the replay on Lima TV, there he was in the middle of a Hawaiian themed Botkins cheering section wearing an appropriate shirt. I sent him a note that night to congratulate him on this unique outreach. As per usual, an energetic reply quickly followed. “I have an absolute blast interacting with kids in student sections. We promote and emphasize leadership and put a face on the OHSAA for these youngsters. When they become adults they’ll know who we are and what we do, and will hopefully have a positive image of the Association.”
Next week: A Reds pitcher’s favorite umpire.
Photo courtesy Ryan Loy
Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross has served multiple OHSAA roles and is the senior member of the Media Advisory Committee.