Top football player walks away from sport to focus on potential Olympic future in wrestling

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Kyle Snyder is supposed to be a key part of the Olney (Md.) Our Lady of Good Counsel High football program, an annual contender for national honors. Snyder spent a significant portion of his first two high school seasons lining up at nose tackle for the nationally ranked Falcons.

Then, with a junior season ahead in which he could cement his place on a national title contender -- and perhaps gain the eye of nationally prominent college programs -- Snyder walked away from football suddenly, making a calculated decision to leave the sport for a bottom line reason: He's an even better wrestler, and wants to focus on a sport in which he may very well have an Olympic future.

As reported in detail by the Washington Post, the 5-foot-11, 220-pound rising junior is one of the nation's most dominant wrestlers at any level. Through two prep seasons, Snyder compiled a 116-0 record, earning plaudits and plenty of prognostications of future glory along the way. The potential for huge glory at the end of a long training rainbow eventually inspired Snyder to give up his second love, football, to focus solely on a sport in which he's already the best at his weight class.

"I just want to win out my whole high school career, win four NCAA titles, win a few Olympic golds," Snyder told the Post. "I don't just want to make the Olympic team. I want to win a gold."

Good Counsel wrestler Kyle Snyder — The Washington Post
Good Counsel wrestler Kyle Snyder — The Washington Post

In pursuit of constant improvement, Snyder often struggles to find adequate competition. According to the Post, he often trains against area collegiate wrestlers as many as six years his senior, with Good Counsel coach Skylar Saar marveling at his prized pupil's focus and resilience with the odds matched against him.

All of those skills have reinforced a natural talent that other area coaches have indicated is completely peerless.

"He's not old enough to drive a car, but he could probably push one wherever he wants to," Alexandria (Va.) Bishop Ireton High coach Don Dight told the Post.

With that kind of talent -- and that bright a future -- even the coach who will lose one of his best prospects can't begrudge the decision that has him leaving another sport where he was ticketed as a potential star.

"His balance and quickness and strength and leverage made him an incredible football player," said Bob Milloy, who has been involved with high school football in the area for 50 years. "You're dealing with a world-class athlete here. Hopefully, I'll be watching him in the Olympics one day."

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