Snively was especially committed to helping students who were having trouble adjusting to college life, and several credit him with having turned their lives around. He had a guesthouse on his Durham Point Road property where he'd let some students stay, rent free. He and his wife, Eva, served as surrogate parents to these "problem kids," as Tim Churchard '65, '84G only half-jokingly calls them. Churchard would know. Today he's a lecturer in education and sports psychology coach for the UNH hockey team, but he was once a "Snively problem kid."
A Saugus, Mass., native who played football and hockey during Whoop's tenure, Churchard was so miserable his freshman year that he deliberately flunked out, with a 1.2 GPA. Thinking college wasn't for him, he got a job in construction and withstood a brisk winter of manual labor outdoors. But while everyone he knew tried to push him back into school, Snively was the only one who didn't try to force him to return.
"All he said was, 'If you do come back, you can stay here. I know your parents don't have any money,'" Churchard recalls. He did go back, and stayed in Snively's guesthouse with another student whose life had gone off track. Snively helped them both find their way back.
"If it weren't for him," says Churchard, "I wouldn't be here. I would never have graduated."
In his office at UNH, Churchard still keeps a copy of "Whoop's Bible" inside a weathered blue, three-ring binder of memorabilia held together by an elastic band. The faded pages give off a musty smell, but the lessons they contain are still as fresh as they were fifty years ago. Keep a cool head and play fair. If you run with the right guys, you will never get in trouble. Win by the book; it means more. Churchard often channels his mentor, especially when he encounters homesick freshmen who remind him of himself when Snively helped him.
Churchard also draws on the words Snively left for him, specifically. Every year, the coach wrote a personal note to each of his former players to check in with him and see where his life was taking him. Though that list grew ever longer, Churchard says, Snively never let anyone slip out of his reach.
Indeed, it was the coach himself who suddenly slipped out of reach, dying unexpectedly as he stopped at the Durham gas station to fill his car on an April evening in 1964—only hours after the university had announced plans to build the indoor ice arena he had championed for several seasons. The UNH community as a whole, and Snively's players in particular, reeled at the loss. There were no answers to be had in Whoop's Bible, its preliminary rosters and 1964-65 season game plans a poignant reminder of what was missing. Churchard was so devastated he left the hockey team.
But the coach's legacy endured. In February 1965, the new ice arena was finished, and named in his memory. Players like Churchard and Lundholm, Nelson and Lamontagne honored him by living their lives by the same high standards he had always held them to. In the Field House, visitors still can find a small plaque commissioned in honor of Snively's 100th collegiate lacrosse coaching victory. Presented to him by his 1956 team, the plaque is inscribed to Snively: "friend, philosopher, respected advisor, and our esteemed coach." A quiet memorial for an unassuming man with big hands and an even bigger heart. ~
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