Snider out, Vasko in as Nordonia head volleyball coach

MICHAEL LEONARD Reporter

Last fall, Lori Snider led Nordonia volleyball to one of its most successful seasons in school history. 

The Knights not only won the title in the Suburban League National Conference, but also reached the Division I district final before losing to Solon in five sets. 

When the Knights return to the hardwood this fall, however, they will do so without Snider.

Don’t expect too much of a change in style. Nordonia has decided to promote Snider’s top assistant to the head job.

Tim Vasko has been recommended to become Nordonia’s new head volleyball coach, according to Nordonia Athletic Director Rob Eckenrode. Eckenrode said Snider announced her retirement in May after her second stint in charge of the Knights.

“It caught me off guard,” Eckenrode said. “She’s going to step down for personal reasons. She just needed to concentrate on her family. I thank her for everything she did for Nordonia volleyball. She left the program in very good shape.”

With Vasko’s promotion, Eckenrode said he is hoping for a “seamless transition” for the program.

“Tim was always the guy for us. Tim fits in very well with the girls,” Eckenrode said. “That continuity he brings to the table is huge. Most of our varsity team is back this year.”

Vasko noted even he was taken aback by Snider’s decision to step down.

“It was very surprising,” Vasko said. “She was a very good coach.”

Vasko works as area manager for Cornerstone Building Brands. This will be his first time as a head coach at the high school level, but he has a long history with volleyball, including spending the last four years with the Knights.

“I’ve been a [Junior Olympic] coach for 15 years,” Vasko said. “With my work, I wasn’t able to take on a high school program before. I worked it out with my company and we shouldn’t have any issues. 

“It’s a big time commitment [to be head coach]. You’re in charge of everything. You’re communicating with all the parents. It’s probably going to increase a good 10 to 20 hours a week for me.” 

Vasko will inherit a veteran squad this season from a team that went 13-1 in the Suburban League National Conference last season, tying with Wadsworth for its first league title in a decade. The Knights lost do-everything setter Madison Knight to graduation.

“We lost three seniors, but everybody else should be back,” Vasko said. “It should be a great corps to work with.”

From his time with Nordonia and previously with Stow-Munroe Falls, Vasko realizes the National Conference remains one of the toughest conferences for volleyball in the state.

“It’s a really tough league. You’re going to have to play the likes of Hudson, Twinsburg, Wadsworth and North Royalton twice every year,” Vasko said. “You look at all those teams and everyone has a lot of talent coming back. It’s going to be a huge challenge for the girls.”

Vasko also is aware how difficult it could be to pilot of volleyball team in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. He remains hopeful the season can be played in full.

“We’re taking the guidelines and restrictions seriously,” Vasko said. “It’s a huge challenge. It’s unforeseen, obviously, and everyone is going to be in the same boat. Hopefully we can do what we need to do to have a season.” 

Vasko plans to make only one major change to the Nordonia coaching staff, as long-time Strongsville head coach Eric Sobota will join the Knights as a varsity assistant coach.

The rest of the Knights staff from last will remain relatively intact. John Smoleny will serve as Nordonia’s head junior varsity coach, with Abby Shoop as assistant JV coach and Jazmine Dukes as head freshman coach.