January 13, 2016

Phillips Academy secures $15 million commitment to help build new athletic center

The 90,000 square-foot facility will transform experiences and enhance sports for students, coaches, and fans of Andover
by Phillips Academy

Phillips Academy alumnus and former varsity track captain Steve Snyder ’56 has pledged $15 million toward a new athletic center, a 90,000 square-foot facility that will transform team experiences and enhance life sports for students, coaches, and fans of Big Blue. Making the announcement today, Head of School John Palfrey expressed tremendous gratitude for Snyder’s commitment to a critical campus need.

The gift, made in honor of Snyder’s 60th reunion this June, will help fund construction of the athletic center, which will feature a 200-meter track, 12 international size squash courts, and multipurpose rooms. The convertible infield will be used for basketball, tennis, and indoor practice space for field sports. The center also will house events such as reunions and serve as a site for commencement activities.

Snyder’s commitment provides tremendous momentum toward the Academy’s fundraising goal of $34 million for the new building. The athletic center is Andover’s first investment in a longer range plan to upgrade and modernize its athletic facilities.

An eight-letter varsity track star at Andover, Snyder credits the sport with instilling in him a steadfast commitment to sportsmanship and hard work. “I gained confidence through track,” he said. “If you applied yourself, you could win—not only for yourself but for your team.”

Instrumental to his development as a student and athlete was the guidance of legendary track coach Steve Sorota. A member of the athletic department for 41 years, Sorota coached track and football and mentored thousands of students. “I learned how to believe in myself through the sport and Sorota’s coaching. He showed us that, with determination and dedication, we could succeed,” said Snyder.

“We are so grateful that Steve’s Andover experience—his admiration for Coach Sorota and lifelong relationships with classmates and friends—continues to have profound meaning in his life,” said Palfrey. “The generosity of Steve and his family ensures that generations of students will continue to develop their own personal connections while experiencing the joys of competition, teamwork, and camaraderie in a state-of-the-art facility.”

Growing up on Long Island and attending public elementary schools, Snyder had never run competitively prior to Andover. “One of my Rockwell House proctors was captain of the track team, and he asked a group of us to race him for fun.” Snyder outran the captain and immediately was recruited onto the team. His first year, he won the New England Interscholastic 40-yard dash, at age 14. At his commencement, Snyder was awarded the Sorota Track Trophy for exhibiting “outstanding character and the will to win”. Following Andover, Snyder competed at Yale and on the Special Services team of the U.S. Navy—setting numerous records.

Snyder and his wife, Jamie, have lived in Florida for more than 40 years. Their son, Barron, graduated from Andover in 1983 and works with his father at Chester Partners, a private investment firm that Steve founded.

In addition to his investment in Andover’s future, Snyder has been a member of the board of directors at Lynn University in Boca Raton for the past 20 years and currently serves as vice chairman. Longtime philanthropists to Lynn, the Snyders established a scholarship and created the Snyder Sanctuary, an inspiring retreat inviting members of the campus community to gather for discussion, contemplation, music, and celebration.

Both the sanctuary at Lynn and the new athletic center at Andover showcase Snyder’s passion to create community. “I like to make connections for people,” he said. “The athletic center will help to do that as well—serving track and many other sports and needs. It will be a wonderful example of the ways in which these types of facilities should be used today—as a place for the community to gather.”

Athletic Director Leon Modeste said this gift preserves a bright future for students and all who celebrate athletics and believe in the importance of health and wellness. “Our student-athletes are dedicated to competition and sportsmanship, and our facilities will soon match the level of passion and excellence they display each and every day.”

In June, Snyder and his classmates—a group of men whom he said he never would have met elsewhere—will return to the Andover campus to celebrate their 60th reunion. “We have a terrific class,” said Snyder. “We attended Andover during some of our most impressionable years, and the experience was critical in my development. This gift provides me with a fulfilling way to give back to a school that was, and still is, very important to me and my family.”

Categories: Athletics, Philanthropy

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