There’s something to be said for knowing what you want, and then going out and getting it.
In Claire Snyder’s case, what she wanted was to play lacrosse for Northwestern University. So when the Chicago-area NCAA Div. 1 school – which boasts of one of the top women’s field lacrosse programs in the United States – offered her a scholarship, she accepted it immediately.
She didn’t sleep on it, there was no hemming or hawing, no delays. Just an immediate verbal commitment last fall, followed by an official signing in March.
“When I started talking to schools, Northwestern was definitely my number one choice, so when I was deciding and I got an offer from them, it wasn’t a tough decision,” said Snyder, who is in Grade 12 at Semiahmoo Secondary, finishing up her high-school education at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While many student-athletes are currently running into recruiting roadblocks due to the pandemic, Snyder wasted little time making an official visit to Northwestern, travelling there Sept. 20, less than three weeks after NCAA schools were officially allowed to speak with her.
“I went there, and I had other visits (to other schools) planned, but the offer from Northwestern came sooner than we thought it would, so I ended up cancelling my other visits,” she explained, adding that nine schools reached out to her on Sept. 1 to express an interest in her lacrosse services.
“It was nice to have that pressure off.”
Snyder – who also plays soccer, and until Grade 10 played volleyball and basketball for her high-school teams – has been a longtime box lacrosse star with Semiahmoo Minor Lacrosse, and in field lacrosse for the Surrey Warriors.
She has twice helped lead Semiahmoo to provincial box lacrosse championships, and has a pair of B.C. field titles under her belt, too, with the Warriors, while also picking up a provincial MVP award and multiple all-star nods along the way.
Her impressive resume also includes a national title with Team BC, as well as an invitation to a U19 Team Canada lacrosse camp. At the high-school level, the multi-sport star has also twice been named Semiahmoo Secondary’s female athlete of the year.
After Grade 10, she gave up school sports to focus more on lacrosse because “they were just taking up a lot of my time… and I couldn’t keep up at that point.”
Snyder said her first love was always soccer – “I was so into it,” she said – but when she was in Grade 5, her brother Sam, who is two years younger, took up lacrosse. It piqued her interest and, soon enough, she was hooked.
“I started throwing it around around with my brother and my dad, and it just kind of stuck with me,” she said.
Playing on successful teams, surrounded by a slew of other talented players also helped keep her focused on the sport as she got older, she added.
“For me, a big part of it was my box lacrosse team. We were really, really close, and I had so many good friends on that team that it made me want to go to practice, and made it more fun to play in general,” she said.
The team’s success didn’t hurt either, as far as motivation goes.
In 2018, the squad won a provincial midget championship, which was the culmination of seven years of hard work. The team – coached by Snyder’s dad, Colin, who also currently serves as association president – was Semiahmoo’s first-ever all-female squad, and in their first season, they lost every game.
“In the early years, opposing teams would come to play Semiahmoo for an easy win,” the elder Snyder told Peace Arch News back in 2018.
Much has changed since then, and it’s unlikely the younger Snyder will have to worry about any winless seasons in her NCAA future. The Northwestern Wildcats have long been a contender in the Big Ten Conference, having won NCAA national titles from 2005-09, and then adding two more in 2011 and ’12.
The team’s head coach, Kelly Amonte Hiller – also the U.S. national team coach – has been at the helm since 2001; Colin Snyder called her “the Bill Belichick of women’s lacrosse,” referring to the legendary National Football League coach.
“I think I’ll fit in well. I got a really good feeling from all the coaches and the staff there – I felt really comfortable,” Snyder said, adding that she’s undecided about what she will study at the highly regarded Illinois school.
Lacrosse aside, she said she was most looking forward to “getting the chance to live somewhere else and have some new experiences.”
“I’m a little bit nervous, but I think I’ll be able to adjust well.”