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PLAYER PROFILE: Gymnastic Skills Set the Stage for A-C Valley Senior Ava Snyder in Other Athletic Pursuits

(This is one in a series of summer player profile articles. If you would like to participate, fill out this PLAYER PROFILE form for a chance to be selected.)

FOXBURG, Pa. (EYT/D9) — When Ava Snyder started gymnastics at the age of six — like most rambunctious and fearless kids do — she didn’t know what a big part of her life the sport would turn out to be.

Or how hard it would be to leave it behind.

Snyder, who will be a senior at A-C Valley High School in the fall, excelled at it from the start.

Tumbling was her specialty and she reached the highest level she could by the time she was 13.

But balance was becoming an issue — not while performing, but when it came to time. Her growing interest in other sports began to interfere with gymnastics.

“I was really good at it,” Snyder said. “I was really flexible and really strong in my tumbling. It really helped me because you have to be flexible in other sports.”

In the seventh grade, she had a decision to make. She quit gymnastics.

“It was so hard,” Snyder said. “I was in junior high sports and it just became too much and I didn’t want to continue it. I do miss it a lot.”

Snyder poured herself into other sports, namely volleyball and softball.

This spring for the Union/A-C Valley softball team, she had a standout season. She batted .388 with a home run, four doubles, two triples and drove in 12. She also scored 17 runs.

It wasn’t all smooth, however. Union/A-C Valley just missed qualifying for the postseason and Snyder had both exceptional days and disappointing ones on the diamond.

But she learned a lot about herself from those experiences, both good and bad.

“The best days, of course, were when we would win,” Snyder said. “Also when I had a great performance. My worst days were when I felt I underperformed and made mistakes. They taught me I do have the ability to play well and should be confident in myself. They taught me I can’t always have a good day and I need to have more belief in my abilities.


Name: Ava Snyder

School: A-C Valley

Year: Senior

Sports: Volleyball and softball

Q: How would your coaches and teammates describe you?

A: A leader. Helpful. Encouraging. Nice. And funny.

Q: What have you learned about teamwork from your experiences playing sports?

A: I’ve learned how important it is to have a good bond with your team. Being able to connect with each other, on and off the court, is a very important aspect of a team. Having each others’ backs and picking each other up when you are down is something that helps teams truly succeed.

Q: What would you consider the greatest challenge of being a high school athlete today?

A: Balancing school and sports. Coming home late from a game and having to get up early the next day for school isn’t easy, but I do it anyway. Having practice or games after school and not knowing if you have time for homework is rough, too, but somehow and someway I figure it out and complete it.

Q: What’s the biggest piece of advice you’ve received from a family member, coach, teammate, etc. while playing sports?

A: Something my softball coach, Lauren (Forrest), said to me before I was up to bat was, “I have confidence in you and that’s why you are one of the nine people in the batting lineup.” Having a coach who has confidence in me really helps build my belief in myself. The encouragement and energy I receive helps me succeed and play well.

Q: What are your other interests outside of sports and how do they help you add balance to your life?

A: I participate in Student Council and Prom Committee at our school, and I really enjoy it. I’ve always enjoyed being involved in my school and being able to plan things like dances, fundraisers and activities for our school. It helps keep me busy and had helped grow my creativity.

Q: Anything else you like to do in your free time?

A: I like to go swimming. I have a boat dock out in Clarion and I like to go boating with my family. I like to go fishing and kayaking. I just like hanging out with my friends and family and just sit out on the river all day.

Q: Complete this sentence: In my fridge you’ll always find …

A: An Alani, my absolute favorite energy drink. Especially the pink slush flavor.

Q: What three famous people would you like to have dinner with and why?

A: My first would be Zach Bryan because he is my favorite music artist, and I would love to be able to meet him. Elvis Presley would be my second choice because I really enjoyed the movie made about him and would like to know more about his story. My third choice would have to be Adam Sandler because he is one of my favorite actors and I love all his movies.

Q: Elvis is an interesting choice. Not a lot of younger people know a lot about him.

A: I watched the movie and I absolutely loved it. I loved his story. I was just so interested and I listened to his music and I loved it. I mean, I always knew who he was, but I never really knew his story.

Q: What does the future hold for you after high school?

A: I have been looking at different colleges and I’m planning on going to (PennWest Clarion) for radiology. I would love to play a sport in college, but i just don’t really think it’ll be a fit for the career I want to go into.

Q: Does that make your upcoming senior season even more important to you?

A: Oh, yeah. It’s very emotional, knowing that there’s going to be all these first lasts coming up.