Back for the future

Eric Snyder

LaCrosse enjoyed baseball success during Eric Snyder's tenure as coach from 2000 to 2004, winning its last sectional title in 2002.

Now the program is going back for the future, having recently hired its former dugout boss to return to the Tigers.

"I always thought when (son) RJ was done playing, I may look into it, then he said he needed a break, that he was done," Snyder said.

Snyder applied for the position at both LaCrosse and South Central, where sons RJ and JT played and nephew Todd currently plays, and when S.C. went with Zach Coulter, there was no drama in his decision.

"Some people said I'm too disciplined," Snyder said. "Well, I'm not changing. I'm extremely happy the way it worked out. As soon as I came back, it was like I never left."

The approval was formalized about a month ago and Snyder hit the field running. They've already held a wooden bat tournament as a fund raiser. He's worked extensively with the junior high kids, a 10U team is already playing and he is in the process of putting together 8U and 12U teams from the kids who play in the LaCrosse, Wanatah, Clinton and Union Mills leagues.

"We're pushing the younger levels," Snyder said. "Wherever I interviewed, I told them my youngest (Eli) is 9 and I had a clear goal of staying 10 years. All the kids are going to be in tune with the lingo, all the drills so when they're freshmen, they're going to already know. The younger levels here are exceptional. We've got some really good numbers. The junior high has about 20 kids. I'm just meeting with the (high school) kids. We'll start talking, getting to know each other next week. I foresee us having a JV pretty quick."

The LaCrosse facility is already in the process of undergoing a major renovation. A new scoreboard has been installed, stone is laid on the backs of the dugouts and fresh coats of paint have been put down. Seating changes have been planned and Snyder also hopes to have lights at some point.

"We're going to have surround seating," Snyder said. "It's going to be like a mini-Plymouth. I've gotten a lot of donations. The people have been unbelievable. They're like, anything you need, let us know what we can do. It's gone really well in a short amount of time."

While he was out of coaching, Snyder hadn't gotten far away from baseball. He operates a hitting program that focuses on developing bat speed called P3 Xtreme that went national May 1. Based in Hanna, Snyder has worked with Andrean's Dave Pishkur and South Bend Clay's Joel Reimebold, son of hall-of-famer Jim Reimebold and Trine University, plus top area baseball and softball players like Carson Husmann, Brock Lipscomb and Megan Reed.

"I got a call from (former L.A. Dodger) Steve Sax," Snyder said. "I thought it was someone pranking. I told him, Steve, I can't afford to pay you to be a spokesperson. He's like, I just want to be involved. It's been kept vert quiet, but any (top kid) around here, I've had them."

Over time, Snyder expects to have the Tigers back competing in the Porter County Conference and post-season.

"My first time, we had some kids who could play a little bit," he said. "We were (ranked) in the top 20 at one point. We made the final eight once. We had a lot of success."

Former coach Chris McGowen is expected to stay on as an assistant.


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