In the Locker Room with Sally Snover and Devyn Spielvogel


Bryan Rubin

Sally Snover (left) and Devyn Spielvogel

Jackie McDermott, Sports Editor

This week, the Review sat down with softball Assistant Softball Coach Sally Snover and Assistant Women’s Soccer Coach Devyn Spielvogel to discuss the skills they bring to their new positions, their first impressions of Oberlin Athletics and why they love coaching.

 This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Q: What are your backgrounds? Describe your prior experience in athletics.

 Sally Snover: I attended Washington College in Chestertown, MD, for my undergrad — it’s a small Division III liberal arts private college. I played softball there and just had an incredible experience. It really kind of shaped who I am. So that made me want to stay in coaching to really help other athletes have that experience as well. I was lucky enough to stay there for the past four years as an assistant coach, and now I’m at Oberlin, and I’m really excited.

Devyn Spielvogel: I grew up in State College, PA, and went to Penn State for undergrad. I didn’t play there, but I did get a very useful experience working with the women’s team — a really high quality Division I program. I was a practice player so they would have me emulate opposing players that they were going to play in the upcoming week. So I got to play within the team system with a really, really good coaching staff, good people, good environment. Something I took away was, “Oh, this is a great environment. I would like to be part of something like this.”

Q: Was there one particular moment that you can recall that made you think, “I want to be a coach”?

 DS: During that experience at Penn State, I was often sent up to the press box during games to take statistics and to look at the game from a different perspective. In one game, when we came downstairs for half time, Erica [Dambach], the head coach, looked at me and she said, “What do you see? What changes should we make?” And at the time I was a 22-year-old student-manager. She was a former national team head coach and national coach of the year and she asked me personally what I thought of the game. And it was that moment when I realized the reason she is so good at what she does is because she cares about what people think. That just really hit home and I decided I wanted to be like that.

SS: I coached at Washington for four years. So that meant I was with the freshmen that came in my first year of coaching for their entire college careers. I had such a moment when they graduated. Seeing the people that they were then, these wonderful young women who were going off into the world, and then also having seen them as these freshmen who came into our program, that was just so rewarding.

Q: What were your first impressions of Oberlin Athletics?

 DS: I was at The College of Wooster last year and we played against Oberlin. My first impression of the Oberlin team was that they were annoying to play against, which is a good thing. They worked really hard and they competed with us really well. From the outside perspective I was like, I don’t like playing against these guys. But, that being said, that’s the type of [player] that I would want to have on my side.

SS: I was blown away from the minute I stepped on campus for my interview. The campus is beautiful, the athletic facilities are great. I was really impressed with everything I saw. We’ve had two of our fall practices now and working with our team is just so great. All of my impressions and experiences have been positive so far.

Q: Why do you love sports?

 DS: Soccer, specifically, I’ve had a really good experience with just the diversity of the game. I’ve met a lot of different types of people playing soccer and that’s been a really beneficial experience for me, not only as a soccer player and coach, but as a human being.

SS: I think it sounds almost kind of cliché, teaching through sport, but it rings more and more true the older I get and the more experience I have with it. I think that’s the thing I love most about sports. Especially, like [Devyn] mentioned, learning from mistakes. It’s a great arena to learn how to fail.

Q: Who are your favorite professional athletes?

 DS: One of my favorite soccer players is Aaron Ramsey. He plays on the Welsh national team and he also plays for Arsenal, which is a team I really like. I think he embodies what a player should be. He works really hard, he’s a skilled player, has a really good mentality. He picks up the people around him. I really think that he is the type of player that I would like to have on my team.

SS: Manny Machado who plays for the Orioles. I love the way he plays the game. Obviously at the professional level I think it’s a little different, but I think he serves as a great example of switching positions and doing what was needed and doing it incredibly well.

Q: What makes you value Division III athletics over Division I or Division II athletics?

 DS: I have three words to answer this question: balance of life. That’s it.

SS: That was my experience too. I was a Division III student-athlete and it’s exactly that balance. Getting to compete at a high level athletically — we all still want that. It’s not sacrificing that per say. It’s doing that and still getting to be strong in the classroom and participating in other activities.

Q: What are your goals for your first year at Oberlin? Any long term goals?

 DS: Something [Head Women’s Soccer Coach] Dan [Palmer] and I have always agreed upon is having the mentality to compete every game. If you continue to compete through adversity, through difficult situations, you will come out on top. So our goal is to create an environment in which our players are always switched on to that. That would be a long-term goal for me too — how do I help formulate that environment with each place that I go?

SS: [Head Softball] Coach [Sara] Schoenhoft played a huge role in me wanting to come here. She has such a vision for really turning Oberlin College Softball into a really strong competitive program. When I first got to Washington as a player, the program wasn’t that strong. Then over my time as a player there and as an assistant coach, I saw programs grow from [a lower] level to contending for conference championships every year. So that’s definitely a goal at Oberlin starting this year and a long-term goal.

Q: Are you both still active in playing your sports?

DS: I play with a team in Akron that plays in the Lake Erie Soccer League. It’s pretty competitive. When players are out of season, there are a lot of college guys — Division I, II, III, as well as some former and current professional players. So it’s a good competitive league and I really like to play still. I’m still a player at heart.

SS: I have not in Ohio yet but since I finished my college career, I definitely have enjoyed playing. It’s slow pitch now, so definitely a little different, but still fun and nice to get out on the field again. So I hope to find that soon in Ohio.