The Cats reached the state playoffs for the first time in 11 years this season, capping off a special run for the Times-Georgian Coach of the Year and his program.
“Well, it was big for our community, big for our program, big for the younger kids coming up. It gives them something to shoot for every year from now on. They don’t want to be the next team that doesn’t make the playoffs. I think it started a tradition that these kids want to carry on,” Sneddon said.
The Wildcats drew two-time defending state champion Marist in the opening round and gave it all it could handle, winning the opening game of the best-of-three series, 4-3, before coming up short in the final two games to close out the year 19-9 overall.
And though Sneddon would have liked to make a run in the playoffs, he was proud of the way his team handled its first postseason experience against such a prominent program.
“Our kids, they don’t get intimidated. And I was worried about that going to Marist with the two-time defending champions and just the aura of the field and the surrounding area. But our kids stepped out there and they went toe-to-toe with them and I’m proud of them every step of the way,” Sneddon said.
And after getting a feel for the playoffs, Sneddon said his returning players are hungry for more now.
“They were already talking about it. As soon as we lost to Marist, they were saying, ‘We’re going to be back next year. Don’t worry about it, coach.’ And I believe it. These kids, they work hard. They work hard in the offseason and they work hard during the season and that’s all you can ask of your players. You can push them and you can yell at them, but if they don’t have that desire, you can’t do anything with them,” Sneddon said.
“This group, from top to bottom, has that desire and hopefully we’ll just keep bringing more groups in so we don’t miss a beat down the road.”
The VR coach wants trips to the postseason to become expected for his Wildcat program and not just a blip in the radar. He is confident this is just the start of an annual playoff tradition in Cat Country.
“Yeah, at Villa Rica it’s something new. I’m ready for it to keep going. We don’t want it to end. We want to be saying for the 11th consecutive year instead of the first time in 11 years,” Sneddon said. “So we’re looking forward to that challenge this upcoming season.”