Gymnastics, Academics: A Fine Balance

January 22, 1992|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Staff writer

Kristie Snyder, a 17-year-old Woodbine gymnast, will attend Oregon State University on a full athletic scholarship next September.

Oregon State won the Pac-10 and the Western Region championships last year and finished fourth in the NCAA national tournament.

The athletic prowess of Snyder, a senior at Glenelg High School, has been a well-kept secret because she doesn't compete for her high school team. But she epitomizes the term "student-athlete."

She sports a 4.0 grade-point-average, is a member of the National Honor Society and is a Maryland Distinguished Scholar Semifinalist.

Her club team, Hill's Gymnastics, won the U.S. Association of Independent Gymnastics Clubs national championship last year.

She won the USAIGCstate overall championship in April and the Region 7 championship inMay and finished 15th nationally in June.

In November, Snyder also took first place in the 15-and-up category in the Black-Eyed Susan Invitational at Towson State University.

She signed a letter of intent with Oregon State on Nov. 13.

"We are extremely happy to be getting her," Oregon State coach Jim Turpin said Thursday. "She's a tremendous athlete and student, as well as a genuinely nice person. She'll start for us right away, and we wish we had her this season."

Academics rank high with Turpin, who said his team last year had the highest combined GPA of any college athletic team in the country -- a3.61.

"She's actually our first East Coast athlete. We don't recruit there, but she contacted us," Turpin said.

Snyder, who is interested in pursuing veterinary medicine, said Oregon State has a strong veterinary program.

She said other schools that recruited her included Auburn, Kentucky and Louisiana State.

"But I liked Oregon because its team was high on academics," Snyder said. She's in the honors program at Glenelg, where biology is her favorite course.

She's been training in gymnastics since she was 7, first with Coach SteveBedford and the Springettes; then, for the past four years, with Coach Kelli Hill of Hill's Gymnastics. Both teams are based in Gaithersburg.

She said she practices six days a week, for a total of 30 hours, year-round, excelling best in the balance beam.

Oregon State plans to open a brand-new gymnastics center in September. And during Snyder's freshman season, the university will play host to the NCAA championships.

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