BY DAVE RICCI email@example.com
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — It’s a very rare sight when Haley Snyder isn’t smiling.
A key member of the Tonawanda Lady Warriors basketball team that is shooting for its third consecutive ECIC IV title, Snyder, a junior, is a leader on the volleyball team and a multiple record holder for Tonawanda track and field. But what really makes Haley Snyder wear a beaming ear-to-ear smile is the simplicity of life itself and being able to represent THS as a student-athlete.
“I really like it,” Snyder said with a smile. “I go to practice with all of my friends on my teams and we’re just joking around. You get to school and you feel like it’s going to be hard and you come to basketball and it’s fun.”
While so many people today are caught up in the selfishness of wanting more, Snyder is that rare breed who is simply thankful for what life has given her. All is good. She doesn’t need anything more.
“I always pictured high school to be really cool and I’d be one of those (active) kids,” she said. “But I never thought it’d be this much fun.”
Snyder’s infectious, upbeat personality radiates in everything she does and it has a positive ripple effect on her teammates.
“She brings that on the court. She’s so enthusiastic,” said Lady Warriors basketball coach Jay Hall. “She’s carefree and she just hustles all over the place. People see her hustle and they say if she can do that, we better start doing it too.”
Thanks largely to the inner circles of her three teams, Snyder, who won the Leadership Award in volleyball this year, said life at THS has been better than she dreamed it would be.
“I’ve always played basketball but I never thought I’d be on varsity. Playing, making shots in a game,” Snyder said. “It’s awesome.”
But while Haley Snyder is one of the most likable people you could ever hope to meet, once she puts her game face on she’s a two-legged buzz saw who will do anything to help her team win. On the basketball court, Snyder will battle for every rebound and every loose ball. In volleyball, she doesn’t think twice about diving on the floor to keep the ball in play. Haley Snyder is a fighter in every sense of the word. Literally, in fact, as Snyder’s most recent athletic foray has taken her into the boxing ring.
“Boxing’s my biggest challenge so far,” Snyder said. “It’s hard. You get punched in the face and it’s like, ‘oh thank you’ I’ll try better next time to block that.”
Hitting the gym an average of two-to-three sessions a week, Snyder confessed that boxing is without question the most intense workout she has ever had. But it has made her mentally and physically tougher.
Though you certainly wouldn’t want to cross her, Snyder, like any other teen age girl, has her softer side. A side that dreams of a perfect romance. She got that wish too. Snyder was taking part in the annual powder puff football game between the THS juniors and seniors the day before the T-NT Classic, when she received one of the most memorable surprises of her life. At halftime Haley’s cousin, Corbin Snyder, brought Haley to midfield. Before Haley knew it, long-time friend and track teammate Bobby Liebel got on the P.A. System and shocked everyone by asking Haley to homecoming.
“That was sooo cute,” Snyder said with a smile. “I cried. I was like, ‘Yes I’ll go to homecoming with you.’ Then I scored a touchdown right after that!”
A moment plucked directly out of a movie, Bobby came out of the press box at Small Stadium, ran down the bleachers and onto the field as Haley leaped into his arms and said yes.
“It was probably the coolest moment of my life,” Snyder said. “Halftime, powder puff game. My cousin calls me onto the field (and Bobby asked) would you go to homecoming with me? I was shocked because Bobby is so quiet. He doesn’t even like to talk to people and he says that on the P.A.!”
But while that moment will always be tucked away in Snyder’s memory bank, she and her Lady Warrior teammates are focused on the task of a third straight division title and a deep run in sectionals. Snyder knows that this is also a crucial year for her growth as a player. With senior co-captains Alanna Herne and Kalyn Compeau in their final season Snyder knows more will be on her shoulders next season.
“This is my year to step it up,” Snyder said. “Alanna and Kalyn aren’t going to be here next year and Alanna is probably the biggest part of our team right now. She’s a leader, she’s a captain, she’s the point guard and I’m going to have to try and take her spot and I’m just hoping to do as great as she does.”