FARMINGTON — After more than a month of reviewing applications, Shiprock High School has named its new head football coach.
The Chieftains' new head football coach for the upcoming school year will be James Snyder, Shiprock High principal Rick Edwards said on Thursday.
Snyder spent the previous three seasons as the head coach at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kan., where he was a starting linebacker for the Indians during the 1992-93 season.
Prior to his tenure at Haskell, Snyder served as head coach at Kickapoo Nation School in Powhattan, Kan., in 2009 and was a defensive assistant at Haskell from 2002-2008. He has also coached in Florida and California.
Edwards said the decision to name Snyder the head coach was made last week, but the school needed to go through the proper channels before an announcement could be made.
"For me, it's ideal for the work I want to do," Snyder said of coming to work with the Chieftains. "Shiprock would be one of the very few places I would even apply for."
Snyder has family ties to Shiprock. His wife, Lori, is originally from the Shiprock area.
"When I saw the opening, I got pretty excited," Snyder said. "And she got really excited. I applied, and we kept our fingers crossed that it would work out."
Snyder, who is a member of the Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas, grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., and is a product of Florida's football culture.
He said he has always wanted to coach football and doing it in a Native American community can be even more rewarding.
"I've always been drawn to Native American communities," Snyder said. "That's why I went to and coached at a tribal university."
More than 20 candidates applied for the Chieftains' head coaching position. Edwards said Shiprock got what it wanted in Snyder, who came highly recommended from Haskell. He said Shiprock High was looking for a candidate with an experienced coaching background and someone who could move into a teaching position.
Snyder graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in education and earned his master's degree in education from the University of Oregon. He will serve as a social studies teacher at Shiprock, in addition to his coaching duties.
"I really enjoy teaching history," Snyder said. "Of all subjects, I think it's the most important because it can really shape the way you see the world. I haven't taught in five years, and I think I'm looking forward to that as much as I am about coaching."