When Swedish born-and-raised Harriet Victor-Snyder took up residence in the States two decades ago, she kept one foot inside Stockholm.
Over the years, Harriet and her husband, James Snyder, a philosophy professor at Mercyhurst University since 2001, have blended her Scandinavian roots and his U.S. upbringing in their home life, incorporating everything from ABBA to Swedish meatballs. And so it was for their sons, August, 18, and, Orion, 17; both of whom hold dual citizenship and have spent summer vacations in Sweden for as long as they can remember.
Not surprisingly, Harriet was ecstatic to learn earlier this year that August had earned a spot on the men’s Swedish National Lacrosse Team and would compete for her homeland in the 2014 FIL (Federation of International Lacrosse) World Lacrosse Championship July 10-19 outside Denver.
“At home, I’ve spoken the Swedish language, cooked Swedish food, read Swedish stories and practiced Swedish customs but, for me, it was always important that my sons actually feel Swedish,” Harriet said. “So I am super proud, first as a mother, but then as a Swede to have August represent Sweden in the World Cup.”
Senior captain of McDowell High School’s lacrosse team and an incoming Mercyhurst University freshman, August will leave for Stockholm June 13, the day after graduation. He will live with his grandmother while practicing with Team Sweden, although he has followed a strict conditioning regimen of the coach’s design since learning of his acceptance in January. The public announcement of Sweden’s 23-man national team was made just last month.
World Cup teams are comprised of professionals, collegians and a few college-bound high school stars. Some of Snyder's teammates are also Swedish-Americans, mostly from Division I college powers, like the University of Virginia and Cornell.
“It’s a dream come true and an incredible honor to represent Sweden,” August said. “But, for me, it’s much more than that. I will also be playing as an American, representing family and friends, my high school team, the McDowell Trojans; my travel team, Navigator Lacrosse; all the kids I help to coach through the Millcreek Youth Athletic Association (MYAA); and the program I’ll be joining at Mercyhurst University this fall. So many people in the Erie lacrosse community have helped to make this possible, and I feel such gratitude to everyone to be given this opportunity.”
The opportunity for this once-in-a-lifetime experience came courtesy of his father.
“We were in Stockholm last summer and I contacted the president of the Swedish Lacrosse Federation and asked him if August could practice with one of their eight teams,” James Snyder said. “He was placed with the Farsta Cobras, champions of the Swedish National League. After playing with them for several weeks, the team captain asked if he would try out for the national team, so he tried out and made it. It was totally unexpected, but such an honor.”
Snyder said lacrosse is growing in popularity across Sweden and even faster in the U.S. The Swedish men’s national team is ranked #3 in Europe and #10 in the world. For the first time, he said, ESPN will broadcast the Lacrosse World Cup, although the Snyder family will not be in front of their TV when the historic event airs in July; they’ll be in the stands of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo., watching the games.
While August will be heading off to Sweden alone next month, it’s certainly not the first time he’s undertaken such an adventure solo. In 2011, when he was just 15, he traveled by himself to Stockholm, boarded the HM Shamrock, a working tall ship, and spent four weeks sailing the Baltic Sea to become an international certified sailor.
August’s talent and enterprise have come as no surprise to Mercyhurst coach Chris Ryan, who recruited him to play for the Lakers.
“He’s a hard-working kid who is developing his natural skills,” Ryan said. “He has boundless potential and obviously the guys with the Swedish National Team recognized that.”
PHOTO: August Snyder with mother Harriet after receiving Mercyhurst University acceptance letter.