Snyder brings winning pedigree to new job as Woodland girls swim and dive head coach

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BY KEN MORSE
CITIZEN’S NEWS
They talk about transition whenever a new coach takes over a program. Especially a program that was guided by a coach that built a legacy. When Mike Magas stepped down after 19 years on the pool deck at Woodland, the foundation he built over close to two decades was evident by the four NVL championships over the last six seasons.
Magas didn’t simply step down, he handed over the mantle to a new coach that will take the reins and continue what was started at the school on the hill in Beacon Falls.
Ray Snyder IV was a four-time All-NVL swimmer and two-time NVL swimmer of the year who helped Sacred Heart to win three NVL titles and two state championships. He has a family legacy of his own, with his grandfather Ray Snyder Jr. coaching at Croft, Crosby and Sacred Heart and his father Ray Snyder III a coach at Sacred Heart and Kennedy.
“I have been around the pool deck since I was old enough to walk,” said Snyder. “My dad coached at Sacred Heart for 30 years so I have known coach Magas, coach Jim McKee of Naugatuck and coach Andy Marchand of Torrington almost my whole life.
“Filling the shoes of Mr. Magas won’t be easy. He’s been a family friend like forever, I grew up being friends with his son. So this is kind of that full circle moment and I just want to follow the guidelines he established. Implement a little of my style and have some fun.”
Snyder was no stranger to success, having gone on to swim at Southern Connecticut State University and graduated as a 12-time Northeast-10 Conference champion. He was part of two record-holding relays.
“I was a graduate assistant coach at Alfred University for three seasons while I was getting my masters,” said Snyder. “Recently I was an assistant coach for the Immaculate-Bethel girls co-op team.
“I have Jess DeGennaro as my assistant and she knows these girls having helped Mr. Magas over the years. She also coached at Long River and was a water polo player in college.”
Snyder continued: “We are also bringing in a Woodland alum Lauren Lombardo to help with the diving. She helped out the boys team last year and it’s always good to have a former Hawk on the pool deck.”
Woodland comes into the season as the back-to-back NVL champions, led by senior All-NVL and All-State swimmer Emme Starzman and junior All-NVL and All-State swimmer Laura DeGennaro. Starzman and DeGennaro helped push the Hawks to the Class S runner-up last season.
“I had the pleasure of meeting both swimmers at the state open last year,” said Snyder. “They are both phenomenal swimmers but a team is not just your fastest swimmers. It’s everyone coming together and doing their part to compete for a championship. It’s great to be back in the NVL and I’m looking forward to the season. I want the best for the girls in and out of the pool and whatever I can do to make that happen, that is what I will do.”