CSU's Snider overcomes heart surgery to continue playing volleyball

Doctors told Snider she either had to have heart surgery or give up playing sports.

Doctors told Snider she either had to have heart surgery or give up playing sports.

Oct. 7, 2011

By Nic Hallisey
Athletic Media Relations

FORT COLLINS, Colo.--Redshirt freshman Kelsey Snider was born to be an athlete, competing in both volleyball and track throughout her adolescence. But midway through high school her parents told her she had to make a decision.

"My parents were like, `You've got to decide one or the other,' Snider recalled. "'You can be really good at one, or mediocre at both.'"

Snider had been running track for longer, but liked the team atmosphere and challenge of volleyball.

Ironically, the decision was made at a track meet.

"I was running and just realized that I didn't want to do track anymore," she said. "Juggernaut (Snider's club volleyball team) came to my high school, and the coach was like, `Come play club. You could be a collegiate volleyball player.'"

Before Snider could ever think about playing volleyball in college, though, or even before she made her decision between track and volleyball, the 6-1 opposite hitter had to face another dilemma, this one being much more serious.

When Snider reached the eighth grade, she began having difficulty to breathe from time to time. The problem persisted and developed into rapid heartbeats caused by a condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome.

Snider had an extra electrical circuit in her heart which was causing the irregular heartbeats, sometimes beating more than twice as fast a normal heart.

"My heartbeat would just race in circles and beat more than 200 beats per minute," Snider remembers. "You could see it pounding through my shirt."

Snider and her family weren't familiar with the syndrome, and didn't know the extent or seriousness of it, but the athlete was certain of one thing.

"I basically knew that I had two choices: Either get the surgery or don't play sports anymore."

The first procedure involved freezing the extra passageway in hopes of eliminating it from Snider's heart and preventing blood clots. At this point, Snider began seeing silver, and the doctors told her she went through a mini stroke.

Several weeks after the surgery, problems persisted, so Snider went back for a second procedure.

This time, a burn method was used to remove the circuit.

Snider no longer has to go in for check-ups and has been problem-free for five years now.

As for her decision, most would agree she made the right one to opt in for surgery in order to continue playing volleyball.

Her club coach was correct in his assertion that Snider could play at the collegiate level, as Snider, a 2010 graduate of Pomona High School in Aurora, Colo., was looked at by several schools--including Stanford and Hawaii--but only seriously considered one.

"CSU sent me stuff in the mail, along with some other schools," Snider said, "but CSU was in-state, which I knew my parents liked so they could come to the games and see me play. I also knew that I wanted to play for a top-20 school."

CSU met both of Snider's main criteria, and when she enjoyed her unofficial visit, and Head Coach Tom Hilbert offered her a scholarship, Snider had made her decision, declining all other visits and suspending talk with other coaches.

"It was the perfect fit, and I knew I didn't want to go anywhere else," she said.

After sitting out as a redshirt in 2010, Snider is molding herself into the regular rotation in 2011, even earning starts in a half-dozen matches already this season. Entering the weekend, Snider had played in 24 sets, averaging 1.50 kills and 0.83 blocks per set, in addition to more than two points a set.

"Getting the chance to play is fun, for sure," Snider said, "but it's definitely more stressful. I feel like I have to be perfect at everything. It's a lot more intense, but I'm loving it."

And being just a freshman, Snider sees many good things to come in Fort Collins over the next few years.

"I expect myself to improve a lot more," she said. "I'm still kind of new, but I think I'll get better and our team will continue to get better. I'm expecting big things at CSU."


 

 

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