Cross country hires third coach in three years

Philadelphia-area native James Snyder brings a new face and a new attitude to cross country.

Temple cross country will once again introduce a new face in charge of leading the team as it gets set for a new season.

Track & field coach Eric Mobley announced Wednesday that Philadelphia-area native James Snyder is the program’s latest hire, taking the position of assistant cross country and track & field coach.

Although he will not be given the title of cross country head coach yet, Snyder will handle the day-to-day coaching responsibilities for the men’s and women’s cross country teams, as well as the distance teams come track & field season, per a Temple Athletic Communications press release.

He will also enjoy many of the perks of being a head coach, the most significant of those being full recruiting responsibility.

“This is my first time coaching my own athletes,” Snyder said. “The other positions I had were all in an assistant capacity. That was one of the attractions to this job. I can finally have my own group of kids that I can recruit who I want to recruit… and build my own program.”

Snyder was a multiple letter winner for George Mason’s cross country and track & field teams, and is a magna cum laude graduate in exercise science. He earned his master’s degree in exercise science from Appalachian State University while also serving as a graduate assistant for the school’s cross country and track & field programs for two years.

The Downingtown, Pa. native is coming off a season working for Florida State University’s cross country and track & field program as the operations assistant, handling various administrative duties such as planning team travel, managing equipment budgets and coordinating on-campus recruiting.

He said the prospect of coming back home and living close to his family again was something he couldn’t pass up.

“To coach close to home and to get to coach these teams is an opportunity I can’t pass up,” Snyder said. “I remember running at Belmont plateau in [Downingtown East] high school and it’ll cool for me to be able to go back to there and other places like that and coach. I’m excited about the opportunity.”

“I had been thinking of moving back to the Philadelphia area for a long time,” Snyder added. “My family lives really close to here. My parents live a half hour away from here in Downingtown and my sister lives [near Penn State], so this wasn’t an opportunity to pass up.”

Snyder will be the third Temple coach to handle the cross country coaching duties in three seasons despite being the first to not hold the official title as cross country head coach.

Despite two prior cross country coaching changes in the last year, Snyder is excited at the prospect of a long-term career coaching back home.

“I think one of the reasons I was considered for this job was that I’m from around here,” Snyder said. “I know there’s been a lot of turnover with this job in the past and because of that, this is where I want to be. In conjunction with my coaching, this is a great place to build a program. My intention is to be here. This is where I want to settle down. I’m back close to home, my family is all here and I have no intention of leaving.”

Cross country will not only undergo a coaching regime change, but will also be transitioning into the American Athletic Conference in the fall, a change that the new coach is embracing as it gives all new teams a clean slate heading into the 2013 season.

“I think it’s really exciting because in a lot of ways the slate is wiped clean,” Snyder said. “We’re all on an equal playing field feeling each other out seeing who’s going to be the team to step up. A lot of these teams have sprint-dominated track teams, so cross country’s on a much more even field. Beside [the University of Connecticut] on the women’s side because they have a very solid team every year, women’s is an open field. The men’s side is a completely open field, and anything can happen.”

Andrew Parent can be reached at or on twitter @daParent93. 

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