Ryan Grube, Staff Writer
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak that prompted VCU to cancel the remaining seasons for all spring sports, senior Jasmin Sneed was attempting to continue her dual-athlete ways, which she undertook back in the winter.
Sneed, a middle blocker on the volleyball team, racked up accolades on the court throughout her career with the Rams. She was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team following a freshman season where she finished sixth in the conference in blocks per set.
As a junior, Sneed set program single-season records for hitting percentage, .382, and blocks per set, 1.70, on her way to All-Conference First Team honors.
The steady improvement throughout her first three years set the stage for a dominant senior campaign for the San Antonio, Texas, native.
Sneed paced the country in blocks per set with 1.67, while also setting another VCU single-season record for total blocks with 187 — breaking her own record of 180, set during her sophomore season.
The impressive year netted Sneed State Player of the Year recognition by the Virginia Sports Information Directors. She was also selected to the All-A-10 First Team for a second consecutive season.
But, after her senior volleyball campaign, Sneed had the urge to return to track and field, an area she thrived in during her high school days.
Sneed was a standout in the 200-meter dash and the 4×400-meter relay in high school, but the senior settled on high jump for her lone event in her final semester at VCU.
Sneed placed sixth in high jump at the A-10 Indoor Championships in Kingston, Rhode Island, with a leap of 5 feet, 5inches. She said, had the outdoor season taken place, her goal was to place in the top-3 in high jump at the conference championships.
The Commonwealth Times sat down with Sneed to talk about the switch prior to the spring season being canceled. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
On being a three-sport athlete — volleyball, track and field and basketball — in high school:
It was definitely a lot, but I definitely enjoyed having different situations like that, learning new things, and having lots of teammates and support around me. I have a lot of energy, so I get bored very easily. So, it was just nice being able to do those three sports, and keep my attention and my energy going.
Your mom played basketball at Texas State. Was that ever an option, or something you considered, following in her footsteps?
Definitely. Basketball is like my favorite sport. I grew up around basketball all the time. My dad encouraged me to play basketball as well. He took me to WNBA games all the time. And, my mom was always teaching me post moves, and it was definitely an option. I loved basketball, but I found an interest in volleyball. It was very intriguing. I didn’t think volleyball was a sport when I first started playing (laughs). I only played because it was kind of like peer pressure because my friends were trying out, and after I didn’t make one of the teams, it kind of fueled my fire.
You decide on volleyball, commit to VCU. What led you to pick VCU?
When I came on my visit, I loved the coaches. Jody Rogers was hilarious, and I felt safe with her. Like, she could help guide me while I’m in college. I loved the assistant coaches as well. The athletic facilities are very nice, very clean, and the city was pretty cool. I like how artsy it was because I was born in Austin, Texas — Austin is very artsy, very weird. So, I kind of felt like it was a home-away-from-home, and that’s why I felt comfortable committing here.”
You set all these marks and records in volleyball. What led you to switch to track after five years away from the sport?
So, when I came into college, when I came in as a freshman, I wanted to do track already. I wanted to do high jump. I wanted to continue playing multiple sports. And, I was begging Jody, and I was like, “Please let me high jump.’ She was like, “Jasmin, no,” (laughing). The track coaches were begging too, and I kept asking, and she said no. I even asked her if I could be on the basketball team, and she was like, “Jasmin, no. Stop asking.” But, I asked every year if I could be on the track team, and finally since I’m a senior, she can’t really say no. So, I was like, “Might as well do it,” especially since I always wanted to.”
What was that process like? Did you have to try out?
Well, no. The track coaches, they all saw my ability to jump, and they knew they could help me develop a form to jump. So, it was a pretty easy process. All I had to do was, of course, apply to the NCAA for it, and I got approved. So, I’m here.
You were a standout in the 200-meter and 4×400. Why high jump in college?
I knew it would be an easier transition on my body because I am jumping two-plus hours a day for volleyball. And, it would just be the same thing for track — a little different, of course — but, kind of the same thing. I would love to run (laughing). However, that would just be a lot on my body, different mechanics that I would have to learn, and it would just be a harder time on me, on my body and on my schedule. So, high jump was the easier fit.
What’s been the biggest challenge so far with the switch to high jump?
Technique, definitely. Going over the bar, I am very bad at it (laughing). It’s very ugly if you watch it. It works right now, but I can’t wait to actually get the technique down because it would be beautiful.
How has the athleticism translated between volleyball and high jump?
It translated pretty well. Like, jumping straight up. It’s just the carrying over part that’s different because of course, in volleyball, you’re not jumping over backwards. You’re just jumping straight in the air. So, the jumping straight in the air part is translating, but, of course, I gotta get down the high jump and jumping back.
How has the balance been between practices?
It’s been tough, mostly because of my school schedule. I’m taking 18 credits this semester, and my capstone is a lot. So, trying to find time to get into the volleyball gym, and then on the track, is difficult. And, especially because I’m going to play pro [volleyball], so I need to be on the court. So, it’s just kind of tough, tougher than it was just focusing on one thing.
You mentioned you want to play pro in volleyball. What are the goals for that after college?
Definitely playing in the top league of the country. I haven’t decided what country I would like to play for yet. I really want to play for Italy. So, definitely being on a top team, and also starting, are definitely my goals, especially because I’m going to be pretty much starting over. Just like when I came to college, I started over, and I had to learn new things, the speed of the game and then work my way up to start. So, it’s going to be the same process all over again in pro, learning my place, learning more skills, learning a different speed of the game and then making sure I start (laughing).