Kevin Sneddon sits at his desk in a half decorated office that he hasn’t had time to finish yet. There is a pile of framed pictures and documents leaning against the wall that have yet to find a place, among them a diploma from Harvard University.
At first glance Sneddon looks like he may be a body-building motivational speaker: Strong, fit upper torso, a hair style that he wakes up with every morning and eyes that make you believe anything when he says something. Which is why when the new Men’s Hockey coach says he is going to completely revitalize his team to where he knows it can he, you believe him.
“I am going to hold every person on this team more accountable for what they are doing,” says Sneddon. “How they act on the ice, interact with each other, in the classroom and in the community. We are going to have a higher class of execution.”
If there is anyone who can make a team believe in this concept and follow through with it, it would be Sneddon. Sneddon, a native of Burlington, Ontario played four years of hockey at Harvard where he won a national championship in 1988-89. He went to become the captain of the Crimson and eventually get drafted by the Los Angeles Kings. He spent some time with the Kings but wasn’t able to make it past training camp due to an injury that he couldn’t recover from.
Sneddon, only 23 at the time went home to weight out his options. He turned to his former coach at Harvard for advice who suggested that he try coaching. Not long after that Sneddon accepted an assistant coaching job at Union College. Five years later he became the head coach at Union where he increased his win total in each of the five seasons he spent there.
“There are lots of coaches who have a wealth of experience and years on me,” explains Sneddon on being a head coach for a Division I school at the age of 33. “But I feel I am still at the age where I can really relate to the kids and communicate with them as best as possible.”
Not only is Sneddon unusually young which might bring some early criticism but he is also only Vermont’s third coach in 40 years after Mike Gilligan coached for 19 years before Jim Cross coached for 19 years.
“I obviously have some really big shoes to fill. The demand to win these days is so great that you get in trouble if you feel too much pressure. Pressure is all relative and I don’t feel any beyond what I put on myself, which is a lot.”
When the job of Men’s Hockey Coach opened up Sneddon knew it was something that was truly right for him. Having been exposed to Vermont hockey for 14 years as a player and a coach he saw the rink at Gutterson and community of Burlington as a great atmosphere for college hockey.
Sneddon is also very proactive in the college hockey community on a national level as the Third Vice President of the American Hockey Coaches Association and serves on the ECAC Executive Coaches Committee.
Now living in South Burlington, Sneddon, his wife Toni and his four-year old lab know that they are part of something more than just an athletic team. They are part of a community
“I love my time spent in Burlington, it is so beautiful,” says Sneddon looking out his window towards Mt. Mansfield. “There is so much tradition here too which is only part of the many things that tells me I am doing the right thing being here.