By Gary R. Rasberry
When it came time to make his college choice, Mark Snyder had some difficult decisions to make.
A two-sport star at Parkway, Snyder had offers for either football or basketball at some larger colleges while a few smaller colleges even went as far as to offer him the chance to play both sports.
Wittenberg University actually sent both a football and basketball coach to scout and recruit Snyder, and in the end, the Panther big man decided to head to Springfield to play for the Tigers' basketball team while concluding his football career.
The choice was hard for Snyder, who earned All-Midwest Athletic Conference honors in both sports.
"It was real tough," said Snyder, who will major in sports management. "I put some thought into doing both, but in college, football runs into basketball season. Basketball has been pretty much my number one. "Bigger schools wanted me to come to play football. Some of the smaller schools said 'Hey we'll let you play football if you come for basketball.' I decided on basketball."
Making the visit to the Wittenberg campus, a trip of around two hours from Rockford, Snyder found a lot to like.
"They have a real good program," said Snyder. "I really like the campus. I really like the coaching staff.
"It's just right (the distance). I'm not home, but I'm not too far from home."
Snyder joins a Tiger team that went to the Division III National Championship Game last season, losing to Virginia Wesleyan 59-56, finishing 30-4 and winners of the North Coast Athletic Conference. Coach Bill Brown had four seniors graduating from the team.
At 6-6, Snyder was the main post threat for Parkway in his four years of varsity play, scoring 1,000 career points. As a junior, Snyder was the only player in the Grand Lake Area to average a double-double in scoring and rebounds. Last year, Snyder ranked second in the Grand Lake Area in scoring with 16.8 points per game and in rebounding with 9.3 points per game.
Snyder, who earned third-team All-Ohio honors in Division III last year, will likely shift to either a power forward or even a small forward spot at the collegiate level.
"I know they still have one big guy returning," said Snyder, "But they rotate a lot of the big guys in that offense.
"That's what I'm shooting for (getting into the rotation right away). I might as well. I'll just work my hardest and see what happens."
Snyder leaves a Parkway basketball program that broke through a long slump in going over .500 for the first time since 2000 at 11-10. With a group of younger players returning, Snyder cannot wait to get the chance to come back and watch Panther games in the new Parkway Gymnasium.
"I'm very proud. It'll be fun to come back and watch in the new gym," said Snyder. "Coach Hughes (Parkway coach Doug Hughes) really has things going."