Noisy couldn’t quite describe the second floor of the St. Mary’s team house on Wednesday afternoon as 30 athletes, parents and family gathered to celebrate National Dedication Day.
Most of the seniors dressed in their varsity sweatshirts and laughing with their teammates were about to dedicate the next four years of their lives to varsity lacrosse, a top sport in the small school of more than 500. A handful represented only their sport – baseball, field hockey, basketball, cross country, swimming. All represented normal, well-celebrated programs in Saints halls, many with team or individual titles lately, such as Joe Hayburn, who competed in the Olympic Trials and holds multiple MIAA crowns.
Then there was one in a scarlet crewneck from Georgia who was really on his own side — and used to it.
The moment she put pen to paper on her National Letter of Intent, senior Holly Snyder became the first college-bound gymnast in recent St. Mary’s history.
Snyder joins the No. 15 program in America, according to USA Gymnastics’ preseason coaching rankings. Snyder is a five-star recruit and a member of the top-ranked recruiting class of 2023.
Snyder’s trains 20 hours a week out of the spotlight at St. Mary’s. But when the eldest posted her engagement on social media, the community suddenly knew who she was.
“I felt proud of myself,” Snyder said. “I felt like all my hard work was finally being recognized. It was a really cool experience.
Snyder becomes the 101st gymnast under longtime coach Bob Ouellete to earn a full scholarship, and admittedly one of his best. Holding a full score club record (38.95) as a level 10 in her Docksiders gymnastics program, she has won four state championships, two regional titles, three national spots and a junior national title. She has twice qualified for the Nastia Liukin Cup and was twice named to the Region 7 All-Star Team. She will travel to Poland next week to compete as one of the Region 7 All-Stars. Region 7 USA Gymnastics Federation.
Bars and floor work are his strength, although Ouellete also praises his vault and beam. Snyder didn’t fall on the beam once last year, the coach said. When she hits the Georgia mat next season, she hopes to eventually compete in the all-around.
But talent isn’t all Snyder brings to the table, according to Ouellette. She’s also become a bit of a gym mom, mentoring young athletes to overcome their fear with sport.
“She has become an incredible person,” Ouellette said. “The life skills she learned through gymnastics.”
All this she did on her own dedication. Snyder overhears classmates talking about practice, sees the sheer volume of teammates huddle together even just on Wednesdays, a group instead of one person. It’s not something she has in her individualized sport, but it’s something that has solidified her drive to get into the SEC.
“It’s going to be crazy going from a small school to a big campus too,” Snyder said. “It’s going to cost me, but I’m super excited.”
And she won’t be able to do it alone. For the first time, she will be part of a real team.
“All the girls I compete with are already my best friends,” Snyder said. “I’m excited. It’s so special.
Sitting right behind Snyder in the Saints’ team home was a real celebration in itself. Boys’ lacrosse coach Victor Lilly stood still from the signing table before for 10 minutes as 15 of his players (out of 16 in total) cycled in and out, shook his hand and quickly returned to their seats.
Lilly, who coached the program for eight years, has yet to see such a large group. He even predicts at least four more to come before the end of the school year.
“But it’s huge because in the end, as a team, we want to win a championship. As individuals in a program, we want to see successful young men,” Lilly said, “to keep going down that path, go out there and start at the next level.
“I’m not overly sentimental. But yes. It makes you very happy.
Sending so many to tons of Division I programs as well as a few on the lower tiers isn’t an effort by players alone. Lilly employs 14 coaches under her, all of whom work tirelessly to find their children a college home. It doesn’t matter what level they are looking for or qualifying for, the coach said. Although the task has become incredibly more difficult amid recruitment setbacks caused by the pandemic as well as the transfer portal, Lilly expressed pride in the success its program leaders have found in connecting so many of its senior class to the future teams.
“We’ll work just as hard for a kid going to the best school in the country as we do for a kid going to middle school,” Lilly said. “It’s not about where you’re going. It’s about knowing where you want to be.
Two of those engagements wore blue and gold gear. Nick Golini, named captain of captains by athletic director Allison Fondale as the eldest gave an introductory speech, knew long before Wednesday’s signing that he was headed for the Naval Academy. That doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm to join the program, alongside teammate Will Goer.
“The program is doing well right now with coach Joe Amplo; he does a great job with it. But I am delighted with the arrival of my class,” said Golini. “That we got there with two kids from Anne Arundel County. I think this program is on the rise and I’m glad to be good.
Delaney Brimhall – Fairfield University
Audrey Cannelli – College of South Florida
Brayden Cannelli – College of South Florida
Lily Hayes – Xavier College
Kyra Obert – University of Denver
Meghan ‘Hare – University of Notre Dame
Cam Pfundstein – Clemson University
Ty Sands – St. Mary’s College
Aidan Harris – St. Francis University
Gabby LaCroix – Lasalle University
Wyatt Cotton – Williams College
Holly Snyder – University of Georgia
Jacob Adams – UMBC
Sean Berzins – VMI
Gavin Burlace – Notre Dame University
Jack Callaghan – Mercer University
Erik Chick – Johns Hopkins University
Will Goers – Navy
Nick Golini – Navy
Bobby Keane – High Point University
Shea Kennedy – Hofstra University
Jake Kucinski – Saint Bonaventure University
Sam Palmisano – Air Force
Tucker Riggins – Palm Beach Atlantic University
Christian Schroeer – Belmont Abbey College
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Dylan Sharpe – UMBC
Dillon Torggler – Pennsylvania State University
Justin Webber – UMBC
Joseph Hayburn – Loyola
Chloe McCarthy – Mt. St. Mary’s University