FAIRMONT — As a four-year-old playing soccer and basketball at the YMCA, Kaitlin Snyder, now a standout guard on Fairmont State University’s women’s basketball team, always had a playmate — her twin brother, Kyle.
“I think he kept that competitive nature in me,” Snyder said.
And although the siblings grew up in a sport-oriented household, they didn’t let competition get in the way of their relationship.
“I loved it,” Snyder said. “We’re best friends.”
Snyder remains close with her family and credited them to the success that she has found on the basketball court throughout her career. Snyder’s parents, who live in Charleston, find a way to watch their daughter in action as often as they can.
“They come to every home game,” Snyder said.
Snyder, a senior who has averaged 17.3 points per game so far this season, said that it’s starting to sink in that she won’t be returning for another season next school year.
“It’s hard. I’ve done it everyday,” Snyder said. “So once the season’s over it’s one of those things where it’s done and you look back and its a memory.”
Snyder said she has grown accustomed to preparing for practices and games and enjoying meals with the team.
“It’s not going to be like that anymore, so I’m trying to cherish every moment that I can,” she said.
In addition to basketball practice and games, Snyder, who is in nursing school and pursing a minor in health science, is kept busy with the academic side of things as well.
“I’m really focused on school,” Snyder said.
Snyder demonstrates the same kind of tenacity in the classroom that she does on the court, and last year she was named a second team Capital One Academic All-American.
Still, her presence on the court cannot be denied. In fact, FSU head coach Steve McDonald said that he recruited Snyder for about three years before she decided to come to Fairmont, so he was not surprised that the she was able to make an immediate impact. Not only that, but he said that Snyder’s success is at times, contagious.
“Kaitlin’s a kid that leads more often than not by example and how hard she plays,” McDonald said. “When she’s at the right level, we play extremely well because our team just feeds off of her.”
And if Snyder’s teammates are following her lead, they just might pick up one of her pregame rituals — eating a spoonful of peanut butter and a half a spoonful of honey before walking onto the court.
“It’s just for energy purposes,” Snyder said.
Snyder, who was named the WVIAC Player of the Year as a junior, said that she also tries to serve as a role model for the rest of her teammates.
“I like to think I have a leadership role,” Snyder said. “I do try to be a good role model on and off the court.”
According to McDonald, Snyder, along with her fellow teammates, are not only valuable basketball players, but they are also tremendous representatives of the institution and the community.
“When this is all said and done and their careers are over, the type of person you are is much more important than the player you were,” he said.
Snyder said that she used to think basketball was at the core of her identity, but has since changed that mentality.
“Basketball’s not forever,” Snyder said. “I used to think it was. I would think if I didn’t have basketball, what would I do, where would I be and would people still perceive me as who I am?”
And while Snyder said that she hopes her team, which has a record of 16-8 prior to today’s 1:30 p.m. game against West Liberty, can win the remainder of the season’s games with an ultimate goal of making it to the NCAA tournament, she really hopes she and her teammates can enjoy these last few weeks together.
“I hope we can end it well with everybody getting along, having fun and making it the best,” Snyder said. “Those are the memories that we are going to remember.”
Email Kaylyn Christopher at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @KChristopherTWV.