The Snell-Shillingford Symposium is a weekend affair where female undergraduate students attend seminars on various issues pertaining to coaching and athletics. The symposium was started in 1999 by then-Bryn Mawr College athletic director Jen Shillingford to encourage women undergraduates to enter the field of coaching. Female athlete representatives and coaches from member schools, including Bryn Mawr, Dickinson, Franklin and Marshall, Gettysburg, Haverford, Johns Hopkins, McDaniel, Muhlenberg, Swarthmore, Ursinus, and Washington College, 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 symposium honors the contributions and commitment of two of the most influential women in the coaching profession, Eleanor Frost Snell and Jen Shillingford. Miss Snell, as she was known to her students, served Ursinus College as a professor of health and physical education, coach, and head of the women’s physical education department for four decades, from 1931 to 1971. In keeping with the program’s emphasis on mentoring and passing on the education of coaches from one generation to the next, the symposium also bears the name of Snell’s student and mentee, Jen Shillingford, who served as field hockey coach and athletic director for over 20 years at Bryn Mawr and president of the United States Field Hockey Association (USFHA).
Participants in the symposium will learn about the remarkable accomplishments of the legendary and iconic Eleanor Snell, who inspired generations of young women who called themselves “Snell’s Belles”. Described by her former players as a woman well ahead of her time in outlook and aspiration, she was possessed of a quiet intensity and competitive spirit that permeated a program of women’s sport unique in its time. 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.
"'I HAVE A DREAM' I hope that some day every Division III Conference will offer a similar symposium. We know that the Centennial Conference has had over 50% of their symposium participants enter the field of women's athletics. Therefore if we play the "numbers game", the possibility exists for the development of over 200 new women coaches in Division III. This would go a long way toward closing the gender gap." -Jen Shillingford