Snider, coach of Valley's magical 1996 basketball title run, dies - Albuquerque Journal

Snider, coach of Valley’s magical 1996 basketball title run, dies

Valley High School head coach Jerald Snider cheers on his team during the 1996 boys basketball state semifinal game on March 9 in Las Cruces. (Greg Sorber/Journal)

Valley High School’s magical, out-of-left-field – and legitimately historic – run to a boys state basketball championship in 1996 is the stuff of New Mexico legend.

The head coach of that team recently passed away.

Jerald Snider, 76, died at his Northeast Heights home on Dec. 20.

“He was a special man, he really was,” said Rio Rancho High girls head coach Scott Peterson, who was an assistant under Snider at Valley in that 1995-96 season. “He was from Indiana, he loved the game of basketball, and he was passionate about it.”

Snider’s wife, Kathy Sandoval, is founder and director of the AIMS@UNM charter school. She said she believed Snider passed away from complications related to his diabetes.

“I was actually in shock (when I found out),” said Adam Jones, who played guard for Valley in 1996.

“I had seen him two months earlier (for lunch), and was looking forward to another lunch.”

Snider’s health had been in decline. Sandoval said he was also being treated for Parkinson’s disease. In recent months, Snider had been in a great deal of pain, she said.

Clockwise from top left, Adam Jones, Cody Bradley and Daniel Trujillo pose with their former coach, Jerald Snider, during a recent lunch gathering. Snider died last month at age 76. He coached Valley to the 1996 large-school (Class 4A) basketball title. (Courtesy photo)

“The last time we had that little lunch, he had talked about getting all the players (from the 1996 team) together,” said Jones.

Snider was no longer coaching at the time of his death, but before joining Valley in the early 1990s, he had coached at West Mesa and Eldorado. Later, he coached, albeit temporarily, at Jemez Valley.

His greatest coaching achievement, however, came at Valley, where Snider led the Vikings to one of the most unlikely state titles in the modern prep basketball era in New Mexico. The Vikings’ march that week was remarkable in many ways, starting with Valley winning four games in four days against the teams ranked 4, 3, 2 and 1 in the large-school division, then Class 4A.

That year’s state tournament was held in Las Cruces. The Vikings beat Las Cruces High on the Bulldawgs’ home floor in what was called a pre-playoff game on a Wednesday night, then knocked off 4A’s top three schools – Hobbs, Albuquerque High and Alamogordo – in succession in the final three days of the tournament at the Pan American Center. Adding to the surreal nature of it, those three teams were led at the time by Hall of Fame coaches Ralph Tasker, Jim Hulsman and Ron Geyer, respectively.

On top of all that, Valley began the week with the worst record (14-11) of any of the 10 teams that qualified for the tournament.

“During that season,” Jones said, “he had a saying about a brass ring, and that everyone had to reach the brass ring to make it to the next level.”

Snider, a driven yet jovial and playful man, coached Valley from 1990-91 through the 1996-97 season. He later segued into administrative jobs, including being principal at Jemez Valley and helping to get Rio Rancho High School open, Peterson said.

“I wouldn’t be coaching if it weren’t for coach Snider,” said Peterson, who played for Snider at Valley, graduated from Valley in 1992 and started coaching with him in the North Valley as a 19-year-old in 1994. It was Snider who also asked Peterson to come up and coach at Jemez Valley some years later.

“I am forever grateful for the opportunities coach Snider gave me,” he said.

Sandoval said there eventually will be a celebration of life for Snider, and also, as per his wishes, a golf tournament in his memory at Tanoan Country Club.

His love of sports, Sandoval said with a laugh, was a topic on which they didn’t share the same level of affection.

“Poor man got saddled with a wife who had no idea what basketball was,” she said. “He had to teach me about Indiana basketball and iron hoops. And we had to watch that awful movie (“Hoosiers”) once a year.”

It’s a movie that certainly mirrors Valley’s 1996 postseason. Peterson relayed a story that the bus driver that drove the Vikings to Las Cruces that week was only given one day’s per diem because the Vikings weren’t expected to last more than one day. That driver, Peterson added, ended being given per diem money by other bus drivers who went back to Albuquerque earlier than Valley did.

“It was a Cinderella season,” Jones said.


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
Boys prep hoops: Johnson sparks Sandia past Cleveland
Boys' Basketball
Two teams going in opposite directions ... Two teams going in opposite directions met for the first time in more than three years, and Sandia's 6-foot-6 center, Sean Johnson, was more ...
2
Volcano Vista tops wounded Atrisco Heritage for boys Metro ...
Boys' Basketball
Playing the Volcano Vista boys basketball ... Playing the Volcano Vista boys basketball at full strength requires major heavy lifting as it is. And Atrisco Heritage didn't have that luxury. Down ...
3
Jaguars, Hawks to face off for title
Boys' Basketball
District 1-5A had half of the ... District 1-5A had half of the final eight, three of the final four, and now, both finalists at the b ...
4
Snider, coach of Valley's magical 1996 basketball title run, ...
Boys' Basketball
Valley High School's magical, out-of-left-field ... Valley High School's magical, out-of-left-field – and legitimately historic – run to ...
5
Prep hoops: Wednesday night at Metro Championships devoid of ...
Boys' Basketball
The semifinals of the Albuquerque Metro ... The semifinals of the Albuquerque Metro Basketball Championships is pure chalk as all of the higher seeds won quarterfinal games Wednesday night. The boys ...
6
Metro Basketball Championships: West Mesa, Del Norte boys post ...
Boys' Basketball
For the most part, the higher ... For the most part, the higher seeds advanced on the opening day of the Albuquerque Metro Basketball Championships. West Mesa's 10th-seeded boys and Del ...
7
High School Basketball: Volcano boys, girls top seeds at ...
Boys' Basketball
The Albuquerque Metro Championships are indeed ... The Albuquerque Metro Championships are indeed a paradox, as they can rightfully be painted as both a sprint and a marathon. The regular season's ...
8
Boys basketball: Rams land big payback on Santa Fe ...
Boys' Basketball
In the return match between Santa ... In the return match between Santa Fe and Rio Rancho, it was the Rams who protected home court and earned both validation and payback. ...
9
They meet again: Demons, Rams in final
Boys' Basketball
The Rio Rancho Rams were probably ... The Rio Rancho Rams were probably almost as happy about a win by Santa Fe High as the Demons were themselves Wednesday night. Those ...