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Q&A with alum Glen Snodgrass

Q&A with alum Glen Snodgrass

Originally from Scotia, Neb., Glen Snodgrass arrived for classes at Concordia University in the fall of 1994. He went on to play four years of basketball and one year of football. He amassed 981 points, 607 rebounds and 188 blocked shots and was a two-time All-NIAC selection while starring for head coach Grant Schmidt. As a member of the 1998 football squad coached by Courtney Meyer, Snodgrass collected first team all-conference honors while notching seven sacks. Glen is married to Allison (Nyland) Snodgrass, also a Concordia alum and a standout basketball player (1,323 career points as a Bulldog).

Since his collegiate career concluded, Snodgrass has been a successful teacher and coach. He’s won a Nebraska state football championship at two different stops – Overton High School and York High School. He continues to lead the program at York, where he orchestrated a major turnaround upon his arrival prior to the 2011 season. Snodgrass shared insight on his athletic and coaching careers and his family in this Q&A.

Q&A with Glen Snodgrass

It’s been a strange past few months for anybody associated with athletics. How have you tried to take advantage of that time?

I’ve pretty much been going nonstop ever since I was little. We didn’t really know what down time was. The last three months have been a completely different experience for me and for my whole family. Now things are starting to open up and we’re getting back to it and going and going again. It makes me reflect a little bit and think that it’s maybe smart to slow down a little bit. We’re going to keep going hard and doing what we need to do to be successful. At the same time, those three months were great family time. There were a lot of positives that came out of it for me. I wanted to make sure that I took advantage of it. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to be that guy that laid around and binge-watched Netflix for three-straight months. I wanted to make sure that I was going to come into the next season farther ahead than I’ve ever been because of all this free time that I’ve had.

There were so many virtual clinics available online. I spent a lot of time watching clinics and reading – and just working ahead. Right now I’m probably about where I’m usually at in August as far as getting my playbook ready and things like that. Once August rolls around we’ll be able to do extra things we’re generally not used to doing. The downtime was great for recharging batteries. I know this time has been very, very rough on a lot of people around the world and I feel terrible for that. In my personal experience we definitely have had extra time to get some things done. I wanted to make sure I was productive and my family was productive. Now things are getting back to normal a little bit, not completely normal but getting closer. I’m pretty happy with where we’re at right now.

There has been some positive movement as far as getting high school sports back again in the fall. How important do you feel like that is from a community perspective to be able to have high school football this fall?

I think all high school sports are very important to every community. If you come out to East Hill Park on a Friday night in the fall and you’ll see how important football is to the community of York. The whole community shows up for that. You have the barbecues before the game and the get-togethers after the game. You have the band, the dance team and the cheerleaders and all the community organizations that have fundraisers. It is one of the main gathering places for the whole year for the city. I think sports, not just in York but anywhere, are extremely important to the community. I think the anticipation of getting somewhat back to normal and being able to get out and associate with other people is huge. When those guidelines came out the other day I think you heard – I don’t know if a sigh of relief is the right word – but I think people were excited with the anticipation of possibly getting back to normal. We’re not out of the woods yet. We still have to be very careful with everything we’re doing. I think it’s really important to get things going again and I think everybody in the community is excited as well.

Shifting gears here, what was your recruiting story like when you were looking at colleges and how did it end up being Concordia?

I had a very unique recruiting experience. I was actually committed to UNK for football. I had a nice scholarship there and I was getting ready to sign the paperwork before (high school) football season was even over. I kind of for some reason decided I wanted to wait until basketball season was over, just to see what my options were. The UNK coaches told me that may not be able to hold the whole scholarship until the end of basketball season. I said I was willing to take that chance. I waited until basketball was over and decided, I still want to go to UNK. I called UNK and they said they had to cut my scholarship in half. Then I re-evaluated and thought, instead I’m going to go to UNK for basketball because they had a big scholarship open. UNK was going to come down the next day with the paperwork and I was going to sign with UNK.

Well that evening Coach Schmidt and (assistant coach) Micah Parker show up at our front porch in the middle of a rainstorm. My dad really liked Concordia and he really liked the players there. He told me a lot that he really wanted to see me play with Darin Engelbart. My dad was a basketball coach and a college basketball player. He was very knowledgeable about basketball and he said, ‘Glen, that kid is going to get you a lot of points.’ He loved Coach Schmidt and my dad just kind of wanted me to go to Concordia. My dad and I kind of argued in the kitchen for I want to say about an hour-and-a-half or two hours while Coach Parker and Coach Schmidt stood on the porch in the cold and the rain. We finally all decided on Concordia and got the paperwork signed.

It was the best decision I ever made. It was very close to being UNK. That visit from Coach Schmidt and Coach Parker changed everything. It changed my life. I met my wife at Concordia and so many friends and had such a great experience there. I often think about if Coach Schmidt would have decided to just stay home that evening how my life would have been totally different. I’m so grateful he made that trip along with Coach Parker.

Are there specific memories from Concordia that stand out? Are there games or specific plays that you remember?

I can think of several. I remember my freshman year in the conference championship basketball game against Hastings. My dad passed away the night before. I’ll always remember this day. It was very difficult. He passed away the night before the game. Coach Schmidt told me he would totally understand if I didn’t play in that game. I should be with my family. I kind of knew that my dad would want me to play that game so I decided to play it. I played quite a bit in that game and I remember the support. We had a moment of silence before the game and I remember the support from my coaches and teammates and the whole crowd – really the whole college. It made probably one of the most difficult days in my life (a little easier). It was amazing the support and how uplifted I felt from everyone at the college. That’s always a great memory – and we won the game. We won the conference championship.

My senior year we went to Nebraska Wesleyan. They were ranked No. 1 and they were undefeated. I remember they closed the doors to the gym before the JV game got started. The JV played in front of a packed house. Wesleyan’s gym was brand new at the time. We went in and we beat Wesleyan in just an amazing game. It was an incredible game that I’ll always remember.

With football, I had a wonderful experience playing for Coach Meyer. The one game I remember most is the very last one against Dana. My brother played for Dana and by best friend Matt Kern also played for Dana. I remember a lot of my high school coaches were there and my family and Matt Kern’s family were there. It was fun playing against my brother. I was a fifth-year senior and my brother was a true freshman. We lined up across from each other and I had been beating on him my whole life. I figured I’d just run him over and go block the punt. I took off and he put me flat on my back. I thought, ‘Wow, this maybe isn’t my baby brother anymore.’ I’ll always remember that game. It was windy and snowy and cold. We won the game. That was a pretty amazing memory. I remember when Coach Meyer talked after the game and Coach (Tim) Preuss and Coach (Bill) McAllister. I was reflecting that it was probably the last sporting event I’d ever play in. That was quite a memory. I absolutely loved my football experience at Concordia and what Coach Meyer did.

Those three memories would be the biggest memories that I have. I could probably talk about 20 more. Those are the ones that really stuck out.

You played four years of basketball and one year of football. What were those conversations like as far as using that eligibility you had left to play football?

I definitely had more scholarship offers to play football out of high school than I did basketball. I love both sports and I always had football in the back of my mind. I was pretty good friends with a lot of the football players and they were always trying to talk me into playing. Every year I was very close. The problem was that I had a significant basketball scholarship and if you go play football you’re going to lose a portion of the basketball season. I committed to Coach Schmidt so I didn’t want to take away from that. My dad talked to me about that a lot. It’s a commitment that you made. They were counting on me and I didn’t want to back out on that. Even though I really felt the pull to play football all through college I knew it would seriously take away from basketball. I probably would not have been able to play basketball until almost Christmas. Once I found out that I was able to play my fifth year, for me it was a no-brainer.

There was only one time I questioned it. Coach Meyer was very supportive. The only time I questioned it was because I got married the day before our first practice to my wife Allison. I woke up the next day and we had testing. I thought, ‘I just got married last night. I really don’t feel like going to practice.’ It wasn’t actually practice – it was testing. I called Coach Meyer and he was very supportive of me. He said to go ahead and be with your wife. The day after that my honeymoon was spent with one-hundred-and-whatever football players at two-a-days. People ask to talk about your honeymoon. My honeymoon was football practice. I had a glimmer and a thought of not playing – and that would have been the worst decision ever. That season was incredible.

I was always friends with those players and developed those friendships. I always knew those coaches but they went from just people I know to mentors and important people in my life. I would count Coach Meyer as a very important person in my life. Whenever something great happens with my football team at York, Coach Meyer takes time to write me a handwritten letter. Every time I see Coach Meyer he makes me feel like the most important person in the world. He makes me feel like I’m one of his kids. For me to develop that relationship with him was important – and we were successful. That was the beginning of the resurgence of Concordia football. It was the best season we had had in several years. My four years of basketball were incredible and that one season of football was amazing too. I’m so happy I decided to go ahead and go through with that.

You mentioned your wife Allison. How often do you debate who was the better athlete or who had the better career?

I just defer. I’ve never beat her in H-O-R-S-E. I’m not allowed to jump when we play one-on-one. I’m a lot taller than her. She was quite an amazing athlete. She would have been a great softball player too but it didn’t quite work out because of her student teaching. Her first at bat of her career was a home run in a varsity softball game. She’s quite an athlete.

I’ve had interviews with different things lately and I’ve been asked that question a lot – who the best athlete in our family is. My kids are pretty good, my brothers are pretty good and my dad was an amazing athlete. Every time they ask that question I just say that my wife Allison is the best in the family. I loved watching her play. She found herself in the bleachers a lot. She really played with a reckless abandon. She was one of those smart point guards that I love coaching. She had quite a career.

What was it that convinced you that you wanted to get into coaching?

I think I knew that early in my high school career. I just love sports and my family has always been very sports-oriented. My dad was an All-American basketball player at Peru State. He was a Seward High School alum. He was 6-10 and he had some opportunities in the NBA actually. His NBA opportunities didn’t quite work out, but sports were always important. I always planned on playing in the NFL. I just knew I’d be playing for the Bears. Once reality set in junior-senior year, I just wanted to continue to be around sports. I knew I wasn’t talented enough to play professionally. I knew the best way to be around sports was to coach. Football coaching was one of my first thoughts because I love and respected my high school football coaches so much – and basketball coaches. For some reason I always wanted to be a football coach. I’ve done both. I wanted to find a way to continue competing. Sports have been a huge part of my life and still is.

This is probably something I didn’t think about as much when I was young. Now you shift thoughts a little bit. It’s a great podium that you have to teach kids so many things outside of football or basketball. Just teach them life lessons, character and integrity. Right or wrong, a high school boy a lot of times will listen to their football coach maybe a little bit more than their teachers. It’s not probably right, but that’s sometimes just the way it is. I have that podium to help kids and hopefully help them become better men and better fathers someday. That’s been a huge part of my coaching career. I just wanted to go out there and compete. Now that’s the part that really drives me. When I think back on my career, that’s the part that I really appreciate the most – the kids that you’ve been able to help and the kids that remember the lessons you’ve given them over the years.

A lot of that, I go back to Coach Meyer. In that one year I learned a lot about how to be a man. I figure that’s something that I need to pass on.

You had a lot of success at your first job in Overton and then you decide to come to York, which was a program that was struggling. What do you like about taking on that challenge?

You hit it right there – the challenge. Part of it was the fact that it is a little bit closer to family for my wife and I. That was a minor part of it. We didn’t move just for that reason. I mentioned Matt Kern earlier. He was teaching at York. Him and I have been best friends ever since we were very young. That was part of it too. I felt like we could have stayed at Overton for our whole career and probably been pretty successful. We would have been fine with that because we loved Overton. It was a great place for our family. Something just kept nagging me that I needed to take that next challenge. I was actually offered several jobs and they never felt right. For some reason the York one did. They were way down on a 20-game losing streak. They were down on athletes. They didn’t have maybe the athlete buy-in they needed.

I felt like it was a place that if we developed that athlete buy-in it had a lot of potential to be successful. One thing I liked was it was one town and one school. You don’t have to spend time recruiting. You kind of know who you’re going to get. It was a challenge to take something that wasn’t at the top and see if you could get it turned around. It was really, really big for me. At the same time it was also really scary. We had been very successful for 12-consecutive years at Overton. I had a lot of people tell me, ‘What are you crazy? Why are you doing this?’ For some reason I was pulled that direction. My wife and I both agreed. My kids were not happy with me at all. It worked out very well. We loved Overton but we also love it here now. It’s been a great place for us. I assume we’ll probably end our career here. As of now, that’s the plan.

Speaking of one of your kids, what was that day like for you when Garrett signed to play at Nebraska?

I just don’t know how things could get a whole lot better. You hate to say that’s the peak, but it would take quite a bit to improve over that day. We were in the middle of an amazing season – or at the end of an amazing season. We’re getting ready to play in the state championship game that day. I got a call in the weight room and it was Coach (Mike) Riley (former Nebraska head football coach). I got calls from Husker coaches occasionally to wish me good luck or whatever. They were kind of recruiting Garrett, but not real hard. I kind of assumed that Coach Riley was just calling me to wish me good luck in the game. We started talking about Garrett and he said he thought he was the type of guy they could win championships and they’d like to offer him a full scholarship. For me personally, I’ve lived and died Nebraska sports ever since I can remember. I think there’s only been one Husker game that I’ve missed in my life, whether it’s been live on TV or on the radio – and that’s one they played on a Friday night when we had a game. I love Husker football. I don’t get too emotional a lot but I did right there. I thanked Coach Riley.

I didn’t know how to handle it because we had a game that night. I thought, ‘Boy, this is going to be a lot to throw on Garrett before the biggest game of his life.’ I called my wife and told her and she was all emotional about it. I decided I was going to wait until after the game until I told Garrett. We played amazing that night and we won the game. Garrett had an incredible game and we win the state championship. I always had this vision of seeing myself putting that medal around his neck or my other son Dalton. Hopefully that’s still in the future. It happened that night. I got to put the gold medal around his neck. I figured that was going to be the pinnacle. After that I got to tell him right there in the middle of that field, on the N, in Memorial Stadium with our fans cheering everywhere, that he got a full-ride scholarship and he would be playing his games in that stadium for the rest of his career. It was amazing. I don’t know if I have the right words to describe exactly how amazing that day was. To end it right there with my son Dalton and Garrett and my wife Allison taking pictures in the stadium – it was pretty awesome. I don’t have the right words to describe it. I don’t know if things could ever get much better than that.

After you do win a state title, which you’ve won two as a coach, what does keep you motivated to keep going and looking ahead to what’s next?

Matt Kern and I won one in high school along with my brothers Paul and Jake. I’ve coached in five state championship games – three runners up and two titles. I think I really hit on it earlier. Probably the thing that motivates you to keep going is that you’re making a difference for kids. I always say that the culture and the lessons you teach the kids are far more important than X’s and O’s or the technique that you teach. We have a lot of kids who have amazing families and they don’t need a ton of guidance from me, but there are some that don’t have that father figure or need a nudge in the right direction or a kick in the butt. That’s probably the biggest thing that keeps me going. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still that competitive fire in me that wants to go out and compete and be in the middle of the action. There always seems to be more work. The nights get late during the season and it does get to be a grind. The ability to compete and the ability to motivate and help kids is the biggest thing. I still have a son playing. My son Dalton is going to be a sophomore here at York. Honestly that’s another big driver for me to be able to coach him until he graduates.

On impact of basketball coaches at Concordia …

Coach Schmidt was a big part of my life. He really taught me a lot about toughness and discipline. He was definitely a winner. Coach Schmidt was absolutely a competitor and absolutely a winner. A lot of things I do now I pull from Coach Schmidt and Coach Meyer, and also Micah Parker. Micah Parker was a huge part of my career and I learned so many things from him. Coach Schmidt and Coach Parker were very important to me and did a lot for me.

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