Strength in the classroom and on the pitch leads Summit’s Olyvia Snyder to Harvard

Olyvia Snyder, right, carries the ball down the pitch during a rugby match. Snyder helped lead the team to its 14th consecutive state title with a win over Monarch this past fall, during her senior year. Snyder recently committed to Harvard University, where she will play on the women’s rugby team.
John Hanson/Courtesy photo

As the school year starts to near its final weeks, college commitments from the Class of 2022 are trickling in.

Summit High School multi-sport athlete Olyvia Snyder was one of those local students to sign her letter of intent. Last week, she announced she will be attending Harvard University next year.

Synder will be attending the Ivy League school as both a student and member of the Harvard University rugby team, which features two Summit graduates in PK Vincze and Cassidy Bargell.

Snyder is a well-rounded athlete who led the Summit girls rugby team to four state titles and the program’s 14th consecutive title this past fall.

Snyder is also a extremely talented Alpine skier, skiing for Team Summit and Summit High School. During the 2021 winter ski season Snyder won a state individual title in the slalom, beating the competition by close to two seconds.

Snyder also plays soccer in the spring and has been a valuable leader to the team, especially this year since the team is made up of younger players.

Snyder began the recruitment process to Harvard in the summer of 2021 when she competed alongside her Summit High School teammates at the Falcon 7’s rugby tournament in Little Rock, Arkansas.

At the tournament, Snyder met Harvard women’s rugby team head coach Mel Denham. After meeting and watching Snyder compete in Arkansas, Denham and Synder kept in contact until Snyder was available to visit the Harvard campus during the early fall, prior to her final high school rugby season.

It was during this visit when Synder fell in love with the university, the team and the city of Boston as a whole.

“I really liked Boston. The city is insanely cool, and there is so much to do,” Snyder said. “I really, really liked the program and the coaches at Harvard. There is also the possibility I can ski for them, but I don’t know if I will have time.”

Summit's Olyvia Snyder recently committed to Harvard University and will be a member of the university's womens rugby program. Snyder has been a standout student athlete while at Summit High School, playing three different sports and boasting a grade point average of 4.4.
Olyvia Snyder/Courtesy photo

Upon returning from her visit to Harvard University, Synder began the lengthy and stress-inducing process to apply for official acceptance to the prestigious university.

“I began writing my application and got a counselor to help with them because it was a lengthy process with a bunch of essay for all the schools, and they were all different essays,” Snyder said.

Synder is not just athletic. She is also a standout student, boasting a grade point average of 4.4, an ACT score of 33, and a SAT score of 1500. Synder was also a 2022 National Merit Scholarship finalist and an avid volunteer locally.

Due to Snyder’s academic excellence, she easily got acceptance letters from several schools, including University of California Santa Barbara. But she was ultimately waiting to hear back from Harvard until she made a final decision, she said.

Synder submitted her completed application to Harvard on Jan. 1 for regular decision, but due to how difficult admissions were this year, Snyder was forced to wait until the very last minute on March 31, the day Harvard announced all of their last decisions.

Snyder’s name made the list, and a few days later, Snyder made it official by committing to be part of the Harvard Crimson this fall.

Snyder, back row center, poses with the rest of the Summit High School girls rugby team after a match. Snyder was a huge asset for Summit as she helped lead the team to its 14th consecutive state title with a win over Monarch last fall. Snyder recently committed to Harvard University where she will be a member of the womens rugby team.
Olyvia Snyder/Courtesy photo

Like any successful high school student athlete, Snyder will be leaving Summit High School with her fair share of memories over the last four years.

One of her favorites occurred when she helped lead the Summit girls rugby team to its 14th consecutive state title this past fall.

“We were ferocious, and to step off the field knowing that we did all we could as a whole team, it really capped off the whole season and my whole high school career in rugby,” Snyder said.

“She’s been a real positive influence on our program,” Summit girl’s rugby head coach Karl Barth said on the impact of Snyder. “I think the biggest thing over the last two years is her leadership. The entire time she has brought this incredible work ethic with a calming intensity which has been really good for a lot of the girls.”

Snyder cites most of her success athletically and academically to her entire family, including her younger sister Ella, who has been — and will continue to be — a cornerstone for her as she takes her leap into a career at Harvard.

Next week, Snyder will get her first taste of what college may be like as she attends Harvard’s admissions day, where she will stay with Summit High School alumna Bargell.

“I am really looking forward to expanding my horizons and meeting new people and being part of a unique community in Boston,” Snyder said. “I’m really excited to be a part of the rugby team and pushing myself to see where I can go in the academic realm and the sports realm.”

Snyder has not officially decided what she will study at Harvard, but she said she is leaning toward a versatile degree perhaps in applied mathematics or business.

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