Kitsap honors NK coach, teacher with candlelight vigil

The collective group related to Dave Snyder extends far beyond blood, with those knighted into his ever-growing family tree coming from the athletic fields, from the classroom, and all across North Kitsap and beyond.

Hundreds to over 1,000 of that collective family – believed to be just a small percentage of the true number of lives impacted by the late coach and teacher – came together in a period of unfathomable grief two days after Snyder unexpectedly died at age 54.

A celebration of life ceremony is scheduled for June 29 from 2-4 p.m. at North Kitsap Stadium.

Former and current students, athletes, families, former teammates and even the briefest of acquaintances to Snyder lit candles of mourning at a June 19 vigil outside North Kitsap High School, honoring a man who not only took on more than a fair share of vocations inside and outside the grounds of the high school, but did so with love.

“He loved you all so much,” NKHS principal Megan Sawicki said, first to the surviving family and then to the crowd. “He had a deep-seated belief in what all of you could accomplish.”

News of Snyder’s death June 17 spread quickly through the community. The NK defensive coordinator had traveled with the team to a football camp at Central Washington University in Ellensburg. Head football coach Jeff Weible said Snyder was coaching just hours before his death.

Peter Blue, another assistant coach, was on the bus ride to the camp reading a work of C.S. Lewis titled The Problem of Pain. “I now know why I was reading that book, ‘cause we’d all be here experiencing it together,” he said.

The loss of Snyder traveled beyond NK to many athletic programs in Kitsap County. Among the sea of purple was mixed the crimson of Kingston, the blue of Bremerton, and the navy blue and gold of Bainbridge.

Bainbridge football coach Dan Schoonmaker said: “Just look at the numbers here tonight for this. Most people wish they could have a life that has impacted this many people. He shows so much care and love to everybody he’s coached, everybody he’s taught. These guys, Snyder, they’re my brothers.”

Snyder’s death is the loss of a coach for flag football and track and field, a dedicated teacher, a husband and father, a former teammate or classmate, a downright lover of neon and the list goes on. Yet intertwined in all of those was a willpower to see all those he met succeed beyond anybody’s expectations.

Another assistant coach, Ian Meis said: “That’s Dave in a nutshell, empowering everyone around him to grow, to chase greatness, to never settle or become stagnant. Dave’s life mission was to create better humans.”

The vigil may be the ultimate proof of that accomplishment or the long-sought answer to Snyder’s famous equation of ‘E+R=O’ or event plus response equals outcome.

Jasmine Selembo was one of many track athletes Snyder had a knack for finding and convincing they could be a jumper. She said: “He makes everyone believe in themselves. He pushes programs and people beyond what anyone thinks is reasonable. He’ll always tell you that there is no traffic on the extra mile.”

Continuing, she added, “So don’t cut the corner, do the extra little bit because you don’t know when that’s the last time you’ll get to do it with that person.”

Efforts to pay for his funeral expenses have brought in over $25,000 on GoFundMe as of June 19.

Flowers are set beside a picture of the late Dave Snyder.

Flowers are set beside a picture of the late Dave Snyder.

Joanna Pruden offers some opening remarks before a large crowd mourning the loss of Dave Snyder.

Joanna Pruden offers some opening remarks before a large crowd mourning the loss of Dave Snyder.