While most supporters of Easton Area High School’s wrestling team may well know the names Barry Snyder and Brian Gaumer, most District 11 and region fans may not.
That may change a little now that Snyder, a varsity assistant to Steve Powell, and Gaumer, the Easton Area Junior High coach, have been named the Pennsylvania coaches of the year for their categories by the Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association.
But probably not. That’s generally the life for assistants and junior high
coaches. Long hours, much responsibility, key contributions to success, not a lot of credit.
Of course, the anonymity has its blessings, too.
“It’s not bad,” said Snyder with a chuckle. “Steve takes all the heat but he gets a lot of unnecessary bricks thrown at him. Sometimes, I’m a buffer for him.”
The reason Easton has been such a successful wrestling program rests in no
small part with men such as Snyder and Gaumer, their assistants and
Many a fine varsity coach at other schools hoping to emulate a team such as Easton with its 35 individual state champions and boatload of team trophies has fallen short. Not because he can’t coach — but he can’t do it all by himself and he lacks the support of knowledgeable and skilled men such as Snyder and Gaumer, who can teach the whole boy, not just the athletic part.
“From my point of view I want every kid to improve, not just on the mat but in the classroom and behavior-wise too,” said Gaumer, whose program is so successful it now runs two teams to find room for over 60 youngsters. “From day one, we want our kids to constantly improve.”
And Gaumer made a point of saying what a fine job the midget coaches do — “phenomenal”, he said — recognizing that the sport’s grip on Easton and its athletes starts early in their lives.
Snyder has coached at the highest levels; among the many state champs and All-Americans he has mentored was his son, Bryan, who was a PIAA state champ, a four-time All-American and a two-time runner-up. But he knows where the Rovers’ success starts.
“What Brian (Gaumer) does at the junior high is hugely important,” Snyder said. “They set standards down there and they make sure the kids know how important wrestling is in Easton, though they know it’s not life or death. They do a great job teaching fundamentals.”
Gaumer’s goal is to get his “Red” team wrestlers (the ‘A’ junior high team,
though his ‘White’ team is a top-10 D-11 squad as well) as ready for the
future as possible.
“We try to do the same thing the varsity does, the way we wrestle every match,” he said. “We go away to Bellefonte overnight the way they do for Reno, we go to Cumberland Valley with houseparents the way they do at Manheim. We want to do just what the high school is doing.”
Men such as Snyder and Gaumer need more than skills in teaching wrestling to achieve success. First, they need support from understanding families — and sometimes a reality check from their loved ones.
“(His son) Bryan and I used to argue so much about wrestling at home that my wife Charlotte told us we had to stop or she wouldn’t cook any more,” Snyder said. “I can’t cook, so we stopped.”
Second, while they enjoyed winning and success, they have to look beyond them because the plaudits for those go somewhere else.
“I want the kids to have good basic discipline, good technique, good work ethic and be on top of their game at all times,” Gaumer said. “I want a team that is constantly attacking, constantly going, kids that work hard and train hard. There are a lot of benefits from that.”
And third, and most of all……