Whether it was in track and field or football, or in the gymnasium, Jeff Snider touched the lives of many.

Snider, a popular coach and physical education teacher in South-Western City Schools, died April 20 after a brief battle with bladder cancer.

He was 62.

Snider was an assistant football coach at Grove City, guiding the freshman and junior varsity teams over the years for coaches Brian Cross, Scott McIntire and Mike Lanza.

"It was very shocking to everyone that knew Jeff and worked with him," said Cross, who is now coaching at Ready. "He did an outstanding job for us. He coached our freshman team for a long time. He worked so well with those kids and did a great job motivating them and teaching them the right way to play the game."

Snider developed a close bond with several players, including D.J. Gatewood, a junior running back and linebacker.

When Gatewood entered high school, coaches considered playing him at the varsity level as a freshman, but his parents suggested he begin with the freshman team.

Gatewood said the decision proved to be invaluable. He played for one season under Snider, an experience he always will cherish.

"My parents thought it was important I play freshman ball (and) develop my leadership skills, so I had coach Snider," Gatewood said. "He and I were really close. He was one of the first coaches I ever really got close with in high school. He was one of those guys you loved being around. He was so funny. I'll always remember him for his quotes."

Gatewood missed most of his sophomore season with a broken leg, an injury suffered in the opener against Hilliard Davidson.

He returned this past season, earning honorable mention all-OCC-Ohio Division recognition after rushing for 308 yards and one touchdown. He is expected to pick up the rushing workload in the fall in place of 2018 graduate Devin Dukes.

When a school levy failed in 2009, forcing the cancellation of fall sports, Snider joined the Grove City Christian football team as an assistant for one season.

He returned to Grove City to coach under Lanza in 2014.

"The kids loved him," said Lanza, who coached the team for three years before stepping down after the 2016 season. "He did a great job of going over to the middle schools and recruiting the eighth-graders. He was full of life. Nobody loved Grove City more than coach 'Snide.' He played football there. He was just Grove City through and through. He barked, he growled. He was everything the kids really looked up to."

In lieu of flowers, Snider's family requested that contributions be made in his memory to the Grove City High School Gridiron Club.

Snider was a 1974 graduate of Grove City and a graduate of Wilmington College. He was a physical education teacher at Westland and Prairie Lincoln Elementary School.

Snider also was the sprint coach for the Westland track and field program before retiring following last season. He previously was an assistant track coach at Grove City.

"He wanted to fish more and spend time with his grandchildren and watch them play sports," Westland track coach Tim Eckard said. "He loved his grandchildren."

Baseball team looks to improve hitting

After being shut out twice by Pickerington North in less than a week, baseball coach Ryan Alexander is hoping his team's offense improves as the postseason approaches.

Grove City was 15-6 overall and 8-5 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Pickerington Central on May 2. The Greyhounds were third behind Lancaster and Central, both of which were 9-4.

The Greyhounds lost to North 1-0 on April 20 and 2-0 on April 26. They also were shut out by Gahanna 1-0 on April 30.

"This is the most times (five) we have ever been shut out (in a season)," Alexander said. "We didn't get shut out once last season. It's a lack of consistency. We left eight runners on base (April 26) and refuse to go into battle-mode to move runners. We are going to have to get better at these things if we are going to advance in the tournament. Our pitching and defense have been the rock so far this season."

Grove City bounced back to defeat Reynoldsburg 9-6 on April 27.

Girls basketball team to have new leader

After coaching at the middle school level the past five seasons, Joel Taylor is looking forward to his promotion.

Pending school board approval, Taylor will be Grove City's next girls basketball coach. He will replace Dale Corbett, who stepped down after 31 seasons.

Athletics director Kris Sander said Taylor's recommendation will be presented to the school board at its Monday, May 7, meeting.

Taylor, 50, was the eighth-grade girls coach at Jackson Middle School.

"It's a great opportunity," he said. "I know a lot of the girls that are already in the program. I love the game of basketball and I just want to share that passion with our girls, work hard, get better and be the best we can be and have some fun in the process."

Taylor previously was a junior varsity coach for two seasons and an assistant coach for five years in coach Greg Waits' boys program.

A native of New Mexico, Taylor attended New Mexico State and later coached boys basketball in New Mexico at the prep level.

He has been a science teacher at Grove City for 17 years. His wife, Jane, is the school's track and field coach and a physical education teacher at Grove City.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Grove City baseball, softball, boys tennis and track & field teams:

BASEBALL

May 3 -- At Teays Valley

*May 4 -- At Pickerington North. The Greyhounds lost to the Panthers 1-0 on April 20 and 2-0 on April 26.

May 5 -- Home vs. Watkins Memorial and Wheeling (W.Va.) Linsly

May 9 -- Home vs. 36th-seeded Delaware or 43rd-seeded Marion Harding in second round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays 16th-seeded Marysville, 18th-seeded Mount Vernon or 32nd-seeded Reynoldsburg in district semifinal May 15. The Greyhounds are seeded third of 48 teams.

SOFTBALL

*May 3 -- At Gahanna in makeup from April 24. The Greyhounds defeated the Lions 12-3 on April 26.

May 9 -- Home vs. 42nd-seeded Walnut Ridge in second round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays 19th-seeded Teays Valley, 28th-seeded New Albany or 30th-seeded Logan in district semifinal May 14. The Greyhounds are seeded ninth of 46 teams.

BOYS TENNIS

May 4 -- At Teays Valley

May 5 -- Teays Valley Invitational

May 7 -- At Newark

TRACK & FIELD

May 4 -- Westerville Central Invitational at Otterbein

*League contest