Catching up with Carli

By: Timothy Pontzer | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published January 31, 2017

 University of Florida junior outside hitter Carli Snyder returns a volley during a SEC match earlier this season. Snyder finished her career at Macomb Dakota with school records in kills, digs and aces.

University of Florida junior outside hitter Carli Snyder returns a volley during a SEC match earlier this season. Snyder finished her career at Macomb Dakota with school records in kills, digs and aces.

Photo courtesy of the University of Florida Athletic Communications

During a standout volleyball career at Macomb Dakota, Carli Snyder faced a tough choice. She had many offers on the table to play in college, but was unsure about leaving the state of Michigan.

Ultimately, she chose an institution more than 1,000 miles away — the University of Florida. Now a junior, Snyder said she truly feels she belongs with the Gators.

“I visited Florida as a freshman in high school and absolutely fell in love with the campus, academic opportunities and the athletic culture that every sport seemed to have established,” Snyder said. “I think the biggest fear I had was going away from home since I have such a close-knit family. I made the decision halfway through my sophomore year, and it is the best decision I ever could have made.”

Snyder racked up an impressive career with Dakota, tallying 2,703 kills, 1,851 digs and 491 aces all school records. She helped lead the Cougars to a state title in 2012 and earned numerous accolades, including Miss Volleyball in 2013.

“My time at Dakota has prepared me for the next level in so many ways,” Snyder said. “It was an amazing team atmosphere, where I learned to not only be a great player, but more importantly that I needed to be a good teammate. I learned that when there are bumps in the road they shouldn’t stop you from working towards a common goal.”

She carried that mindset to Gainesville, earning 13 starts as a freshman and helping the Gators to the 2014 Southeastern Conference title and the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament.

“Carli is a unique talent, a unique individual,” said Florida coach Mary Wise. “I think she embraces that. Her skill set is also unique. Being able to develop her ability to score points with that frame is what makes her unique.”

Standing at 6-foot-1, Snyder now starts as outside hitter for the Gators. She has also represented the United States, earning a gold medal and MVP at the North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation U18 Championships while still in high school. In the summer of 2015, she earned another gold with USA Volleyball’s Junior National Team at the European Global Challenge in Pula, Croatia.

“My time at Florida has been truly incredible,” Snyder said. “I have become better on the court heading into my senior year, and I have lifelong friends in every area of this program. I couldn’t be competing with a better group of people.”

Snyder started all 31 matches for Florida this past season, which ended in December, helping lead the squad to a 16-2 record in the SEC and another conference crown. She notched career highs in kills (371), digs (277) and points per set (four).

“She is a player we ask so much from,” Wise said. “Her whole game has evolved to this point. Where she is in her strength and conditioning, her focus and skills, she’s playing like a veteran and is a huge reason for our team success.”

Snyder’s performance this past season earned her an Honorable Mention All-American selection by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. Despite her on-court success, she points to what she has accomplished in the classroom as what she is most proud of.

“I could say that my greatest accomplishment is two SEC titles in my three years here, but I don’t know if that’s completely honest,” Snyder said. “I am so extremely proud of the hard work that went into that, because it was a great team effort. But I would consider my greatest accomplishment is that I have found my passion academically at Florida and truly found myself.”

While she chose a school many states away, Snyder hopes to make a career helping people on the other side of the globe.

Snyder is majoring in international studies with a focus on Africa. After college, she wants to join a nonprofit to aid in women empowerment in the area of the continent that lies south of the Sahara desert.

“I am passionate about progress for females in politics, education, child marriage and harmful traditional practices,” Snyder said. “I feel compelled to make a difference in the lives of strong women in difficult circumstances.”