Snell-Shillingford Symposium Honors Two Decades of Leadership and Legacy

The 20th annual event, hosted by Ursinus College from Dec. 7-9, honors the contributions and commitment of two of the most influential women in the coaching profession: Eleanor Frost Snell and Jen Shillingford ’54.

Snell led the Ursinus field hockey team for nearly 40 years and developed the program into a national powerhouse. Eleanor Frost Snell Alumnae Field (field hockey) and the Eleanor Frost Snell softball field are named in her honor. The symposium was started in 1999 by Shillingford, who served as field hockey coach and athletic director for more than 20 years at Bryn Mawr and was president of the United States Field Hockey Association (USFHA).

During the symposium, female athlete representatives and coaches from Centennial Conference schools converge to participate in sessions designed to empower women in the coaching profession and to encourage them to take up the legacy of those who have gone before them. The weekend of seminars address various issues pertaining to coaching and athletics. 

The Ursinus student-athletes who participated in this year’s symposium are: Courtney Cortese ’19 (lacrosse), Hailey DiCicco ’21 (gymnastics), Sydney Gonzalez ’19 (volleyball), Erin McIlhenny ’21 (field hockey) and Erin Saybolt ’20 (field hockey).

Ursinus coaching participants included Taylor Gardner (softball, mentor); Cecily Scavicchio (volleyball, site coordinator); and Kim Valenti and Brittany Montalbano (gymnastics). Senior Associate Athletic Director Erin Stroble ’02, Assistant Director of Residence Life EJ Madarasz, and alums Kelly Becker ’10 and Kitty Dawson ’15 were also in attendance. 

Ursinus Director of Athletics Laura Moliken presented “Making the Difficult Decisions and Having the Difficult Conversations.” Ellen Staurowsky ’77, a member of the Ursinus Board of Trustees, presented “Past as Prelude: Embracing Our Shared Women’s Sport History.”

“The significance of women’s athletics at Ursinus continues to be recognized with the Snell-Shillingford Symposium,” Moliken says. “We are honored to be hosting the event on the 20th anniversary. Our hope is that young women will continue to pursue roles in athletics at all levels and that they will inspire the next generation in the same way they’ve been inspired by all those who have come before them.”

A Centennial Conference article about the symposium states of Snell that, “Conventional wisdom during the decades she coached encouraged polite and restrained engagement in athletic pursuits for women. Under Snell, Ursinus women cultivated more expansive dreams of athletic excellence, dreams that would lead two of her former athletes to take up the mantle of head coach of the U.S. women’s field hockey team and countless others making an impact throughout the athletic world as competitors, coaches, officials, physical educators, administrators and academics.”

Notable Ursinus alumna Sue Day Stahl ’66 served as the U.S. women’s lacrosse coach. In addition, there have been countless other Ursinus graduates who have gone on to coach at the Division I, II, III and high school level.

Approximately 50 student-athletes, coaching mentors and speakers participated in the three-day event. –By Ed Moorhouse