The reigning girls basketball Valley Oak League champs and MVP, state qualifier and Sac-Joaquin Section runner-up in the 400 meters, and a 4.0+ GPA - Taylor Snaer is a busy young woman, but her hard work is beginning to pay off in spades.
The East Union Lancers are currently undefeated in league play and aiming for their fourth VOL title in a row. Snaer’s had four games of 30 or more points and earlier in the season, she surpassed 1,000 career points. College offers, for basketball and track, are beginning to roll in.
“It begins at home,” said Lancer head coach Jim Agostini. “Her parents are both in education, and they've done a wonderful job raising their daughters.”
Snaer’s father, Demitrius, teaches health and physical education at Modesto Junior College, is their head track coach, and ran track collegiately at Fresno State. Her mother, Melissa, is a teacher and also an athlete.
“I learned that if I want my daughters to be a good student-athletes, I needed to model that behavior,” Demitrius said, recalling reading studies and observing other parents. Throughout their childhood, both Snaer and her older sister Jadyn (who is running track at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo) attended their dad’s track meets and their mom’s marathons. Snaer recalls her father setting up mini hurdles in the hallway for them to practice on and how she would “crawl over them if (she) had to.”
While athleticism is a family trait, it is only one factor is Snaer’s success.
“Sometimes people says that she has good genetics, but she is a hard worker. She spends a lot of time in the gym and on the track,” said Demitrius. “She’s a student of the sport. She watches film and learns the tendencies of the girls that she’s going to play against.”
While track and basketball are very different sports, Snaer feels her time on the track improves her play on the court.
“Putting that work into track transfers over to basketball. Having that speed transfers over. Both of them take hard work and determination,” she said.
Agostini has coached her on varsity since her freshman year and he continues to be impressed by her.
“She’s just one of those special players that come through your program,” he said. “She's by far right at the top of the list of special players that I’ve had.” He remembers watching her play in junior high and the excitement that he had knowing she would be a Lancer.
“She came in wide eyed as a freshman,” he recalled. “Now, she just leads this team in so many different ways. With rebounding, getting assists, scoring, and her defensive responsibilities.”
With early mornings and late nights in the gym, speed training throughout the day, and the schoolwork that comes with multiple AP courses, balance in her life is critical. “It’s a challenge, it's hard,” she said. “My parents help me out with it.”
Now, Snaer needs their support more than ever as she faces some major decisions. She currently has interest from Chico, Fresno, Fullerton, Northridge, Stanislaus State, and both Cal Poly Pomona and San Luis Obispo. Not only does she have to choose a school, but a sport as well. While most of her offers are for either track or basketball, each of the Cal Poly schools would be thrilled to have her compete in both.
“It’s a lot. Talking to a bunch of different schools, trying to figure out if it works for me or it doesn’t,” Snaer said. “(Playing two sports) is definitely something I’m looking at, it’s hard to figure that out.”
She mentioned the levels of competition and her compatibility with each program as factor in her decision-making process.
“She’s trying to figure out what the best thing is for her, can she do both?” Agostini said when asked about the decision-making process. “That can be pretty challenging.”
But he is confident in her ability to succeed at the next level, regardless of the sport(s) she chooses, because of her excellent work ethic. “It will be extremely demanding on her, but she is very much up for the task,” he said. “She’s excited, we’re all excited for her, and just (excited to see) how this all plays out for her.”
Samantha Schmidt is a freelance photographer and reporter with FrontRowPreps.com. Her work has also been featured in the Turlock Journal and other Central Valley publications.