Joining the Valparaiso University football staff brings John Snyder back to his coaching roots, to the reason he first came to Northwest Indiana a quarter century ago.
"I've almost come full circle," said Snyder, who resigned as Chesterton's head coach Monday to join the Crusaders staff he was a part of from 1988 to 1991. "When I first started coaching, my goal was to coach at the college level. I had high aspirations to be a Division I coach. Now I've reached a point in my life where I'm looking ahead to the end of my teaching career, and where do I go from here? The goal never really left my mind."
Snyder coached at Chesterton for 18 seasons, the last 12 as head coach, compiling a record of 74-56 that included three Duneland Athletic Conference titles. His son AJ graduates this year, but Snyder said his decision to move on is not related to that.
"Once you're in the high school level, it's hard to get back into college," Snyder said. "I was resolved to continue coaching at Chesterton, but when this opportunity presented itself to me, it intrigued me as far as my original goal. That always looks good to have on a resume. It's a new challenge. I'm excited. It's hard. I know the timing's not very good, but it's time."
Snyder first came to the region by way of Tom Horne, his coach at Iowa Wesleyan. Horne hired Snyder after becoming head coach at VU. Snyder spent three seasons as a Valpo High School assistant before spending a year at Paoli as head coach. He will join Dale Carlson's Crusaders staff as an offensive assistant, with the specific position to be determined.
"Wherever Dale wants to put me, that's fine," Snyder said. "I think I can be an asset, bring some experience to a young staff."
Snyder will continue teaching at Chesterton. His staff includes Mark Peterson, a former head coach at Bishop Noll and Portage, veteran defensive coach Dan McCoy and Nick Bamber, a rising star in the assistant ranks.
"Our success has been a result of having such a quality staff," Snyder said. "All of them are more than capable enough and would make good choices."