Two years after graduating from Canon-McMillan High School, Frank Snedeker was asked to help coach the school district’s youth program, named CCNS, after the three communities of Canonsburg, Cecil and North Strabane.
That rekindled Snedeker’s love for the sport of wrestling and began a 26-year relationship with youth coaching.
“Frank O’Korn was Canon-McMillan’s head coach at the time,” said Snedeker, who graduated from Canon-McMillan in 1969. “He asked if I would be interested in helping coach the youth program.’’
Snedeker held that position until 1998, when he stepped down to take care of his wife, who needed
“Frank Snedeker has played a very big part in Canon-McMillan’s wrestling success for many, many years,” said current Big Macs Coach Chris Mary. “The work ethic and demeanor he displayed during his days at CCNS is evident in all the kids who eventually wrestle at Canon McMillan.”
For his dedication to the sport of wrestling, Snedeker has been named the 2003 recipient of the Dr. Kurt J. Nellis Community Service Award. The award is named in honor of the former standout wrestler at Shaler Area High School, a member of the famed Nellis family that produced a number of WPIAL and state champions.
“I have a lot in common with Kurt because we shared the love of wrestling,” said Snedeker. “It gives me great pleasure to accept this award in memory of Kurt. I’m very honored to be recognized this way.’’
Snedeker began wrestling in seventh grade, but was a starter only one year at the varsity level due to knee surgery, which kept him from wrestling as a junior.
“I fell in love with the sport of wrestling all over again when I began coaching,” said Snedeker, 52, who works for Mascaro Construction. “I miss it, but 26 years was enough.”
During his days as CCNS’s coordinator, the program’s average enrollment was between 100 and 120 youths from ages 8 to 12.
Snedeker’s main goal as CCNS coordinator was to make sure that everybody got a chance to compete, regardless of their skill level.
“Everybody involved in Washington- and Greene-County wrestling either know him or know of him,” said Mary. “He left his mark on a lot of kids over a long period of time.
During his 26 years with CCNS, individuals who wrestled for him won 81 WPIAL section titles, 30 WPIAL Southwest Region titles, 10 PIAA titles, one NCAA title, and 35 Junior Olympic All-Area champions. During that time Canon McMillan won 10 WPIAL section titles, 4 WPIAL team titles and one PIAA championship.
“I often run into former CCNS wrestlers who thank me for the time I put in with the program,” said Snedeker. “I don’t always remember them, but it’s very gratifying to have them remember me.”
One wrestler who surprised Snedeker was Sylvester Terkay, who didn’t blossom until he reached college. At North Carolina State, he was a three-time NCAA Division I place-winner and a one-time champion.
“Sylvester really surprised me,” said Snedeker. “He was a hard worker, but I never thought he would be that good. He certainly blossomed late.”
Snedeker and his wife, Diane, have a son and a daughter, David and Krista. David wrestled at Canon-McMillan and graduated in 1990.
“Frank may not be coaching anymore, but he is one of our most dedicated fans,” said Mary. “He’s at every match and every tournament.”
Snedeker even makes the annual trek to Hershey for the PIAA wrestling championships. He’s missed the state tournament only once in 30 years. That was the year Krista was born.
Dr. Nellis’s widow, Diane, his five children, sister and brothers will join John DeGruffola, chief marketing officer for UPMC Health Plan, in presenting the award to Snedeker.
“Kurt exemplified dedication, hard work and caring,” said DeGruffola. “He had a lot of compassion. Those are the types of attributes that people admire.
“When you look at the young men in the Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic, they all have the same attributes. They all have the same traits. They’ve risen to the top, achieved athletic excellence.
“It’s fitting that Kurt was a champion wrestler in his day and he gave a lot to the community and the Wrestling Classic.”