Through the Years


Bryan Snyder is another newcomer to the Sidelines blog this year. He is in his 11th season as volleyball coach in 2010.

By: Bryan Snyder
Assistant Athletic Director/Head Volleyball Coach

When I was first asked to be a contributor for this blog, I was hesitant, and thought to myself “what am I going to write about?” and “who is going to want to hear my opinions anyway?”  However, I declined to write for the blog last year, and after reading what others wrote, I figured it was my turn and I might as well give it a try.  I am not a procrastinator by nature, but I really struggled to come up with a topic for my first entry, so I kept putting this off.  Well, my entry is set to be posted tomorrow, and I am now up against a deadline, so here goes!

I finally narrowed my topic choices down to two finalists – one that seemed appropriate, and one that was more of a rant (more on that one later!)  After careful consideration, I chose the more mainstream topic of a look back at my time at Washington and Lee.  I first set foot on the W&L campus on the Friday prior to Thanksgiving break in 1990 (Nov. 16 to be exact – isn’t the internet great!) as a senior in high school who was considering attending Washington and Lee.  I was absolutely captivated by the scenery, the campus environment, and the friendliness that everyone exhibited.  Nearly 20 years later, I still feel the same way every time I am on campus, and I consider myself extremely lucky to have the opportunity to come here every day and make a contribution to this great University.

In the 19-plus years that I have been associated with the University, first as a student, then as an athletic department intern, and finally as an athletic administrator, coach and faculty member, I have witnessed many changes in the University and the local community, but the scenery is still beautiful, the campus community is still strong and engaging, and the friendly nature of the students, faculty and staff is still abundant.  Many of the changes over the years have been strictly of a physical nature: the commons, the parking garage, the sorority houses, Wilson Hall, the Science Center, renovations to Reid Hall, Newcomb Hall and Leyburn library, Watt Field, New Cap’n Dick Smith Field, the new Wilson Stadium, W&L Turf Field, and my personal favorite, the new floor in the Warner Center (come on, I am the volleyball coach after all!).  Other changes have been more programmatic, such as the new spring term, winter rush, the creation of minors, the reduction in the number of total credits required to graduate, and the change in the class block schedule (which seems to still be in flux).  Still other changes are more subtle and many times hard to quantify, and I am beginning to feel that they are not necessarily changes in Washington and Lee, but rather changes in my own perspective as I grow older and spend more time here.  I always attempt to look at every decision the University makes through the eyes of the students by thinking back to how I would have felt when I was a 20-year old student here, but that seems to be getting harder and harder to do each year.

The new Warner Center Court

Washington and Lee has been an extremely important part of my life for the past two decades, and I am hoping that the next two decades (or more?) will be just as great!!

Now, for that rant I mentioned in the opening:  I think the new enforcement of “late hits” along the sideline in college and professional football has gotten out of hand and alters the competitiveness of the game.  I have a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, and I watch many sports with an eye on statistics and geometry (volleyball is full of both!).  Defenders are taught at a very early age to take the “proper angle” to cut off a ball carrier or force them out of bounds.  The determination of that proper angle is also dependent upon the velocity of both the defender and the ball carrier, which is typically at or near top speed.  The defender tries to get to that spot on the sidelines at the same time as the ball carrier.  There is no way the defender can be expected to run full speed and then just stop when they reach the sideline if the ball carrier has stepped one foot on the line.  I have seen several calls made this year (and I don’t get to watch as much football as most people due to the fact that we play every Saturday and I need to use Sundays to prepare for the upcoming weeks) where the ball carrier just barely gets to the sideline, the defender, who is coming at full speed, slows down, but still makes contact, and is whistled for a personal foul.  Eventually, offensive players are going to start timing this play to “draw the personal foul” in a similar fashion to how a basketball player will use a pump fake and then jump into a defender to create contact and a potential three-point play.  This is FOOTBALL after all, and hitting is part of the game!

I guess writing about both topics is a little bit of a cop out, and I doubt anyone really cares about or agrees with my opinion on the late hits, but at least I found a couple of things to write about.  Now I can start thinking about my next entry and hopefully not wait until the last day to write it.


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