Johanna Snedeker is Montgomery High through and through.
A 1978 graduate of the school, she attended Trenton State College and knew after her college graduation where she wanted to spend her career.
“This is where I really wanted to be,” she said of her alma mater. “I had applications out but my heart wasn’t really in it. In 1990, I did a maternity leave in physical education. In 1993, I started coaching soccer. I coached the girls B soccer team for a year and then the boys A soccer team for two years. I loved coaching that team. It was such a talented group of boys they had some really good players back then. My team beat Hillsborough and that was huge.”
After spending some time working for the Gallup Organization as a research assistant, Snedeker landed a job as a physical education teacher at Montgomery High.
She still holds the job today and this year will be stepping away from 20-plus years coaching that has included guiding the gymnastics, fencing, soccer and tennis teams.
After her stint with the middle school soccer programs, Snedeker moved on to coach at the varsity level and remained there through this past season with the fencing program.
“The first year I did middle school,” she said of her start with gymnastics. “They asked me to do varsity but I felt I needed a little more experience before I did varsity. But the year after that I did varsity. I had learned through the middle school and the other coaches and the judges were terrific and helped me adjust.
“I also did cheerleading and in 1995 my varsity cheerleaders won the state tournament for small varsity Group 1. We had a big squad. We had three boys and 15 girls.”
Snedeker, who played soccer and one year of softball while she was a student at Montgomery, oversaw a very successful gymnastics program that included a sectional champion in Erin Simon and all-time points leader Zoe Zyvith.
“I always loved gymnastics,” Snedeker said. “I credit the girls I was working with. We had an excellent structure of volunteers and assistants. Every girl had someone they could go to and feel strong. Danielle Mitko was incredible. She was my assistant coach through all those years. We had the Simons, Kelly and Erin, and Zoe Zyvith, who still holds school records. Ashley Williams graduated in 2009 and she was one of my captains and she came back and was my assistant and now she is the head coach.”
Snedeker was asked to be the head coach of a brand new program at the school when Montgomery started fencing. It turned out to be a sport she fell in love with.
“I have been the only girls fencing coach,” she said. “In the beginning I did both teams and then we got larger and larger and it became obvious we needed a second coach. We had 75 on the fencing team this year. It made perfect sense to start a program. We were sending 15 students to the independent tournament because it was catching on so quickly. We were sending almost a whole team to fence as independents.”
After all the time coaching and teaching, Snedeker is now stepping back. She’ll continue to teach, but this was her last season coaching.
“I slowly reduced my responsibilities,” said Snedeker, who has also served as site coordinator for the team and individual state gymnastics championships. “So now my plan is to teach for three years and then see where I am at at that point.
“If the new coach wants my guidance or help with the transition I have said I will help or mentor anyone who wants help. I did that with tennis.”
Snedeker, who has been an EMT with Rocky Hill since the mid 1980s, steps away from coaching with no regrets and nothing but positive memories from all of her sports.
“I don’t have a single bad memory of coaching,” she said. “Over the years I have had one or two parents who weren’t happy with me, but we worked it out. I have never had the real negative experience.
“My husband (Don) has been so supportive of me. It’s hours. You don’t see too many women coaching three sports for over 20 years because of family commitments an other things. But I have been fortunate because my husband has been so supportive. I have enjoyed every minute of it. And I have enjoyed the kids. I have coached boys and girls which has been nice. I coached boys soccer and boys tennis and I had boys on the team with cheerleading.”
She also had plenty of support inside the school as well.
“(Former athletic director) Tony Maselli was just amazing,” Snedeker said. “The bulk of my career he was the AD here and he is that type of leader who lets you go but is always right there to support you. He doesn’t hold you back.”
Over the course of her career, no challenge held Snedeker back. And she leaves coaching knowing she has done a great service for her alma mater.