It's been a little more than one full calendar year since former Ashland University All-American forward/center Laina Snyder has played competitive basketball.
Snyder now will get a chance to begin her professional career, as she has signed a contract with the State Basketball League's Willetton Tigers in Willetton, Western Australia. The SBL is a league which sits under the Women's National Basketball League (WNBL) in the Australian system.
Noting this is a dream come true, Snyder said her agent knew she wanted to play in Australia, and recently, he told her, "I have a team and they need a post player."
Snyder continues to be tied for the most games played in NCAA Division II women's basketball history (138), and is 25th in D-II history with 2,295 career points. She is the Ashland program's standard-bearer in career points, games played (tied), field goals made (972), rebounds (1,207) and steals (372).
A national champion, starter on an undefeated team and the 2017 Most Outstanding Player of the D-II Elite Eight, Snyder also ended her AU career as a two-time College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-American, three-time Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) All-American, 2017 Division II Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) Midwest Region Scholar-Athlete of the Year, three-time All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference first team, three-time All-GLIAC Defensive Team, 2016-17 GLIAC Player of the Year and 2016-17 GLIAC Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
"We played in some big games," Snyder said. "I have the experience of playing beside some very talented people. That will help me going into this new career, the ability to play with my teammates."
Snyder said her goal is to begin her career in Australia, look to possibly play in Europe after that, and play at least a couple seasons professionally.
The Willetton Tigers just began their 2019 season, and are 0-2. The 14-team SBL regular season concludes in the end of July. Willetton plays in the same league as the Lakeside Lightning, the team Ashland head coach Kari Pickens played for five years ago.
"I am thrilled for Laina," Pickens said. "She is playing at the rival club of the one I played with in Australia. She's about 10 minutes from where I played, and I think she's going to thrive in that system. Her motor, her rebounding, her ability to score is going to be a big asset, and she is going to do some great things over there.
"The pace of play is definitely something that is a little bit of an adjustment to get used to. There's more possessions in a game. They're also a very, in my experience, guard-dominant league. I'll be excited to see how her post presence complements their guards."
Willetton is the SBL's all-time leader in league championships with eight.
"I've done some research," Snyder said. "I'm just hoping to have my teammates show me the ropes when I get there.
"I'm really excited. This has been a stressful time, getting everything ready in a short period of time. But I'm excited for the opportunity."