Snyder lends helping hand in Fallon | NevadaAppeal.com
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Snyder lends helping hand in Fallon

Steve Ranson
LVN News Service

On the other side of a pedestal is usually a story of how dedication and advice leads to success.

Former Wolf Pack basketball star and current Utah Jazz player Kirk Snyder revealed Friday night at a Fallon baseball fundraiser that only hard work and the support of others will make a person successful.

Speaking before 300 parents, players and supporters of a traveling youth baseball team that qualified for a major world series in July, Snyder gave more insight into himself as both a player and individual who had set goals for himself.

He volunteered his time to help the Mustangs baseball team raise funds to attend the USSSA (United States Specialty Sports Association) AAA Division World Series in Hutchinson, Kan., July 10-17.

Snyder also has some ties to Fallon. Last year he married the former Haley Dahl, a 2001 Churchill County High School graduate who played two season for the lady Pack basketball team.

Haley Snyder said Kirk was surprised when the team asked him to be a speaker.

“I told him he was the biggest thing in northern Nevada,” Haley said.

The speaking engagement also gave the Snyders an opportunity to return to Fallon to see Haley’s parents.

Snyder recently finished his rookie season with the Jazz where he averaged five points a game and 13 minutes of playing time per game. He said a childhood dream of his before attending college was going to the Sweet 16 and playing professional basketball.

When he was the same age as of many of the Fallon baseball players, Snyder said he experienced the generosity of others in helping him reach his aspirations.

His fifth grade teacher had started an intramural basketball program, but Snyder wanted to play for a national junior basketball team that charged a fee.

“The NJB was hard for my mom to put me on the team,” Snyder recollected, “but my fifth grade teacher put up the money for me to play.”

With success came adversity two years later. Snyder was looking forward to playing on his seventh grade team, but he was cut because of his low grades. He then realized good grades equated to success on the court.

“The coach wouldn’t let me play because I had to get my grade up. He made me come and keep score (for the games),” Snyder said.

Snyder knew others were looking out for him.

“All the people in my life expected me to be a good person.”

From his days on the freshman and junior varsity teams to the varsity in his junior and senior years, Snyder said he and his teammates had goals and dreams, just like the youngsters on he Mustangs team.

He finished high school with good grades and achieved passing scores on his SAT in order to be approved by the NCAA to play basketball. He earned a scholarship to the University of Nevada from then coach Trent Johnson.

“My first year was so-so, and then in my sophomore year, we had more success,” Snyder said.

Snyder’s junior history will be what Nevada lore is all about.

Picked to finish fifth in the preseason WAC poll, the Pack surprised many of its critics by winning the WAC tournament and then advancing to the Sweet 16 before losing to Georgia Tech.

“Looking back I had a lot of success. Older people have guided me through my life. Talk to older people and listen to your parents. You will be successful,” Snyder said.

Then, Snyder directed his eyes to the Mustangs players in a corner of the room and added, “One player out there will make it.”

That later drew a response from one of the Mustangs plaers Miles Adams. The 12-year-old student said Snyder is an “awesome” person for his advice.

“I’ve always liked him and followed him where he goes and watched him on t.v.,” said Adams.

Snyder told how hard he had to work in his rookie season and what it took to learn basketball at a new level.

“The biggest adjustment was playing in 82 games. The other was playing against great professionals not second-hand players,” Snyder said.

He also likes the Utah fans and their backing of the team.

“We had a rough season this year. Fans supported us night in and night out. Off the court they are respectful.”

Fallon Mayor Ken Tedford said Snyder’s appearance was a wonderful, tremendous opportunity for the young boys and girls to hear from a man who had worked hard to fulfill his dreams. Now, he is returning the favor.

“It’s an event they (the baseball team) won’t forget in their life time to have Kirk Snyder help them,” said Tedford, who also presented the former Pack stand out with a proclamation calling April 29 Kirk Snyder Day in Fallon.