Snarskis transitions from teammate to coach

Pitcher+Quinn+Snarskis+delivers+a+pitch+against+Indiana+State+on+May+1.+Snarskis+is+moving+into+a+coaching+position+with+the+baseball+team+following+an+injury+last+season%2C+leaving+him+unable+to+play.

Jonathan Bonaguro

Pitcher Quinn Snarskis delivers a pitch against Indiana State on May 1. Snarskis is moving into a coaching position with the baseball team following an injury last season, leaving him unable to play.

By Gabby Hajduk, Staff Writer

For the first time in his baseball career, former Illinois pitcher Quinn Snarskis isn’t stretching during warm-ups or waiting for reps in the bullpen. Instead, he’s conversing with the coaches on practice plans or analyzing the young Illini pitchers.

Just one year removed from his playing career, Snarskis is now a graduate student assistant coach for the Illinois baseball team.

After suffering an injury last season, Snarskis knew playing the game wasn’t going to be an option anymore. Since the former pitcher was already returning to school to pursue a master’s degree in strategic brand communication, he reached out to head coach Dan Hartleb about a coaching opportunity.

“I thought about (coaching) a lot,” Snarskis said. “I didn’t know if I wanted to, but I figured if I was coming back and the opportunity was here, I would like to take it. Just because baseball has been such a big part of my life, going away from the game was just so weird to me. I wanted to be back for a year and see how coaching was, if I liked it, and so far, it’s been great.”

While Snarskis initially pursued the coaching job, Hartleb was more than happy to give his former player the opportunity.

“As a player, Quinn was one of those guys you never worried about,” Hartleb said. “He took care of things academically, is a very, very good person, good teammate. There were a lot of those things in place, and he’s one of those guys who you want to stay around your program.”

Snarskis transferred to Illinois from St. Joseph’s College after his sophomore season, only playing two years for the Illini. The pitcher appeared in 22 games and started 17 at Illinois, finishing his two seasons with a 6-2 record and a 3.50 ERA.

Even though his playing career at Illinois was short, Snarskis earned the respect of his team quickly. Since the players already trusted him as a leader by example and work ethic, the transition to their coach was smooth.

“He’s more vocal now, as a coach,” said junior Jimmy Burnette. “He was always vocal as a teammate because he did have a leadership role, but he’s more hands-on like in teaching instead of just being a leader.”

Burnette is one of Snarskis’ closest friends on the team; the pitchers even lived together last year. While the dynamic on the field has changed, Burnette said the personal relationship between Snarskis and the players are the same, the team often joking about not being able to call him ‘coach.’

Since Snarskis is close with a lot of the current players, he and Hartleb have discussed where the line between the player-coach relationship stand. While the dynamic has been a weird at times for the former player, Hartleb said Snarskis has responded appropriately.

“He’s got to keep to himself from within our group and can’t go back to players,” Hartleb said. “But if I weren’t comfortable with him being in that role or involved in some of those conversations, I wouldn’t include him. He’s very mature and understands both sides, and he’s done a great job.”

His new position has been an adjustment for the whole team, but the biggest change for Snarskis is not being involved in the action. While it’s been different watching his former teammates warm up and prepare for games without him, Snarskis said the opportunity to teach has been just as exciting.

“This program has done a lot for me in the past few years, so being able to come back and give back anything I can has been really important for me,” Snarskis said. “I’ve loved it so far, and I’m ready to keep going.”

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