Michael Snyder, Clovis Swim Club president, dies

The Fresno BeeMarch 13, 2014 

Coach Mike Snyder

Michael "Big Mike" Snyder, president of the Clovis Swim Club and a former Hoover High School football and basketball coach, died Sunday of a heart attack. He was 49.

Mr. Snyder collapsed at the end of his middle daughter's swim meet at Clovis North High School.

He would have turned 50 on Saturday.

The Fresno native graduated in 1982 from Central High School, where he also got the nickname "the beast." Friends said he was always working out, whether it was playing football or baseball or lifting weights. Later on, he also earned the nickname "Big Mike" because of his muscular figure.

"He was always working out," said Tim Carey, a longtime friend and athletic director at Hoover High. "I would tell him he was superhuman."

His passion for sports grew over the years, but only one sport made him tick -- swimming.

Growing up, Mr. Snyder loved swimming in lakes and pools, and by the time he was in his teens he received his scuba diving certificate.

While at Fresno State, he met his wife Beth, a teacher at Manchester GATE Elementary School. The couple had three daughters. They are Sarah, 16, Caitlyn, 14, and Julianne, 9.

Mr. Snyder shared his love for swimming with his daughters.

"He loved watching the girls swim. He was their biggest fan," his mother, June Snyder, said. "His wife and his daughters were his life."

The three are a part of the Clovis Swim Club, which has nearly 600 members and where their father had been president for the past two years. Whether he was rooting for his daughters or encouraging other children to swim, he always had a motto -- "Leave it in the pool, champ."

And his girls followed his advice. The oldest daughter, Sarah, is on the water polo and swimming teams at Clovis West High School. Middle daughter Caitlyn is also on both teams at Kastner Intermediate School, June Snyder said.

Caitlyn was selected to swim in the Junior National Swimming competition in Orlando, Fla., this weekend. The family had planned to celebrate Mr. Snyder's 50th birthday there.

Friends said it didn't matter what sport he coached, he just wanted to help children succeed.

Fresh out of college, Mr. Snyder was a teacher at Hoover High, where he was the assistant coach for football and baseball for nearly 10 years.

During his time as a coach, colleagues said Mr. Snyder had a unique relationship with students. No matter how troubled the student was, they would open up to Mr. Snyder.

"He got a lot of kids to take control of their lives physically and mentally," said Carey, Hoover's athletic director. "He was like a dad to a lot of the kids."

Brandis Scharton, one of Mr. Snyder's former students, said his larger-than-life personality made everyone smile.

"He knew how to push you but in a fun way," Scharton said. "As soon as he walked into a room, everybody was drawn to him."

Mr. Snyder left Hoover to become a counselor at Fort Washington Elementary School before teaching at Design Science High School near Fresno City College.

Lisa McDaniel, a colleague at the high school, said he treated his students like his family.

"He always cared about them and made sure they were doing their best," she said.

Michael Snyder

Occupation: Teacher at Design Science High School

Born: March 15, 1964

Died: March 9, 2014

Survivors: Wife Beth; daughters Sarah, Caitlyn and Julianne; mother and father, June and Earl Snyder; brother David Snyder.

Services: Funeral at Peoples Church in the main sanctuary at 11 a.m. Friday. A memorial fund has been set up at CitiBank by the family for those who wish to help. The account number is 205653900.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6659, daguilera@fresnobee.com or @DianaT_Aguilera on Twitter.

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