By Robert Carter
The North Jefferson News
Days after she got the news, Barbara Snider still had a tingly feeling.
"I haven't gotten over it yet," said the ebullient Snider. "I'm really in shock."
Snider, the interim principal at Mortimer Jordan High School, had been informed that she will be inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame in Montgomery, in recognition of more than two decades of coaching at Erwin High in Center Point.
The Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Alabama High School Athletic Association and the Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association.
Snider coached a wide variety of sports at Erwin beginning in 1974, but is best remembered for her 24-year tenure as the girls tennis coach, where her team won a state championship in 1991 despite a distinct home-court disadvantage.
"When we won it, we didn't even have any courts of our own," Snider said. "I had to take them over to Jeff State or to the Devonshire Apartments. When they opened the courts over in Center Point, I took them to the courts there. After we won the state, they finally built us some courts."
Snider was somewhat of a pioneer at a time when girls' sports were coming into their own. Erwin at one time had five female coaches, but cutbacks trimmed that number to one — her.
"I was so young, I didn't realize what I was getting into," Snider said. "Back then there were no coaching supplements (additional pay). You just did it for the kids. Gosh, I'm really dating myself here."
Over 17 years as a volleyball coach, she amassed a 409-233 record, with only two losing seasons.
Coaches or administrators must have completed a minimum of 30 years of service in the AHSAA if still active, and 15 if inactive, to be considered for the Hall of Fame. Individuals are nominated by member schools, then a panel of coaches, administrators, AHSAA executive and associate directors, and media representatives pare the list from 50 or so down to 30, then down to the final eight or nine inductees.
Ron Ingram, the AHSAA communications director who knew Snider through his two dozen years as the high school sports editor at The Birmingham News, was on the selection committee.
"Barbara Snider started tennis at Erwin High School from scratch, finding places to practice and play when courts were not available in the early years. Her teams dominated Jeffco tennis most years and her volleyball teams were very competitive," Ingram said.
Snider also coached junior varsity basketball, the junior-high cheerleading squad, and teams for two sports that aren't even sanctioned any longer by the AHSAA: bowling (both girls and boys) and gymnastics.
Since Snider began her coaching career in the mid 1970s, the face of girls' prep sports has changed greatly.
"They have made a lot of inroads. Girls' sports today have a lot more recognition," Snider said.
Snider was nominated for induction into the Hall of Fame by longtime Erwin principal Van Phillips. Letters of support came from veteran volleyball coach Fran Brasch, former Erwin athletic director Hal Riddle (now at Hewitt-Trussville), and Mary Beth Blankenship, the former Gardendale volleyball coach who now is principal at North Jefferson Middle.
Snider will be formally inducted at a ceremony next March.
By Robert Carter