Sanders is back in the dugout

Softball has always been a huge part of Stephanie Sanders’ life.

Sanders, a four-time all-Ohio performer in softball at Bath from 2007-2010, went on to play softball at Michigan State, where she was a four-year letter-winner. She was also a standout in basketball at Bath.

After Sanders graduated from Michigan State, she went on to be an assistant softball coach at Saginaw Valley State, Villanova, Miami (Ohio), and then most recently at Penn State, where she spent two seasons as an assistant. Sanders’ last season coaching was in 2022 at Penn State.

However, Sanders knew she would eventually get back into coaching.

Then it happened.

This past week, Sanders received the phone call that she had been waiting for.

The University of Tennessee reached out to Sanders, as well as her fiancée and now husband, Craig Snider, to join its softball program as assistant coaches. Sanders and Snider were married this week.

Snider has been the head softball coach at Texas Tech for the past two seasons, where he posted a 60-43 record. The previous three years, Snider was the hitting coach at Texas A&M. Before that, he spent eight years at Florida State University and was on the FSU staff when the Seminoles won the national championship in 2018.

Sanders said the opportunity to coach at Tennessee presented itself unexpectedly this past week.

“When I say it happened pretty much over a day or two – it happened quickly,” Sanders said with a laugh. “It was an opportunity that we definitely could not pass up. It makes sense on a lot of different levels that are important to Craig and me, and our family. We weren’t looking at Tennessee. It was an absolute whirlwind of a thing. It was a crazy event for sure.”

Sanders is looking forward to coaching with her husband.

“Craig is going to be the hitting coach,” Sanders said about their duties at Tennessee. “I’ll assist with hitting and I will work with the catchers and outfielders. We’ll both tackle recruiting, which is obviously a huge piece of college sports.

“Craig and I are very similar in our views of running an offense. So, that will be really fun. We talk about softball pretty much all the time. That can be the best thing and at the same time, the worst thing. Our dream is to coach together. … It’s kind of crazy.”

After her two years as an assistant at Penn State, Sanders followed Snider to Texas, where she worked in a softball and baseball training facility, while he coached at Texas Tech. However, she knew that someday there would be an opportunity for her to get back into coaching.

“That little two-year stint of not coaching was extremely hard,” Sanders said. “I think everyone can relate to having to make sacrifices and choices for your family. But as far as coaching – it’s what I’ve always wanted to do with my life. I’ve been very lucky. Being from Bath, I got to play for (girls basketball coach) Greg Mauk and (former softball coach) Laura Ford – two very well-known coaches in the state of Ohio. I’ve always played for great coaches. I’ve been very lucky.”

Sanders said the opportunity to coach at Tennessee seems to be the perfect fit.

“We landed in a very good spot, and we get to do it together at an extremely high level in the SEC (Southeastern Conference). We feel very lucky and fortunate. This kind of thing comes around pretty much next to never – to be able to coach together. He’s from Kentucky. His family still lives there. I’m from Lima. So, we both had dreams and aspirations of being closer to home. We can coach together. It’s in the SEC, and it’s a top-10 program. So, it pretty much checks every box that you could ask for,” Sanders said.