Meet the Register's High School Male Athlete of the Year

John Naughton

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Brandon Snyder felt waves of pain rushing up and down his leg after basketball season. Within hours, he was undergoing surgery to try to save the limb.

Snyder had recently completed his junior basketball season. He was diagnosed with a torn muscle and compartment syndrome, an injury in which blood flow is restricted.

He was rushed into surgery. Today, he still bears a 10-inch scar on his leg.

"I was a weekend away from losing my leg," Snyder said. "If I wouldn't have (had surgery), it would have been scary."

The West Lyon of Inwood graduate bounced back for his senior year, winning state championships in football and basketball.

Snyder has been named the Des Moines Register's male High School Athlete of the Year.

He overcame his potential career-ending injury through surgery and relentless rehabilitation.

Doctors estimated it would take four months before he could compete again. He returned in half that time.

"He came back faster than the doctors expected because he worked so hard," West Lyon basketball coach Aaron Johnson said. "When I heard that, my mouth dropped."

Snyder had always been a competitive athlete. He endured three sleepless nights before his operation.

"I just wanted to play again," Snyder said. "Even one game — because you don't know what you're looking at."

Even his strong faith was challenged during the ordeal.

"You ask why, why does that happen?" Snyder said.

West Lyon of Inwood's Brandon Snyder, now part of the Iowa football program, is the Register's High School Male Athlete of the Year for 2013-14.

The four-sport athlete was a quarterback, defensive back and kicker for West Lyon's 14-0 football team last fall. He served as the point guard on the Wildcats' state basketball squad, too. Snyder wrapped up his senior year by running track and playing on the baseball team.

The passion and drive to compete carried him from the operating room table back to the turf, track, court and field.

"When you physically can't play, you take it to a whole other level," Snyder said. "You find out why you play."

He's now an Iowa football player.

Snyder loved sports from an early age.

"My first word was 'ball,'" Snyder said.

He thrived in an atmosphere in which his classmates enjoyed competition as much as he did.

"When you're in a class of 52 guys, you're best friends with those guys," Snyder said. "We had dreams growing up of winning state championships in every sport we competed in."

Snyder was an all-state football player at quarterback, the leader of the squad.

After his team went home with the state championship trophy, he had little rest. Basketball practice started three or four days after football ended, Johnson said, and Snyder was immediately ready to push his teammates with his vocal leadership.

"I remember his voice filling up the gym," Johnson said.

Although West Lyon's football team was a solid program that had previously won three state titles, boys' basketball had never before been crowned as a state champ.

Snyder led the team in scoring (13.7 points) while ranking among the state's assist leaders (7.6).

Yet the star athlete was known for his character, too. Johnson's daughter, the team's water girl, was treated kindly by Snyder.

"For a Division I athlete to take a few minutes to talk to a 9-year-old girl, it really made a difference in her life," Johnson said.

Snyder also finished as the top-ranked student in his class. He said his parents pushed him to do well.

"They expected nothing less than my best in the classroom," Snyder said.

Whether in the classroom or on the athletic field, Snyder lived up to the challenge.


SCHOOL: West Lyon (Inwood)

SPORTS: Football, basketball, track, baseball

HIGHLIGHTS: Lettered 15 times in high school, earning four in football and basketball, three in baseball, two in track and golf ... Led West Lyon to state championships in football and basketball this school year ... A two-time Des Moines Sunday Register all-state football player. Earned first-team honors as a quarterback on the Class A squad this past fall and was a first-team kicker as a junior ... Guided the football team to a 14-0 record as a senior, passing for 611 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushing for 878 yards and 11 more scores ... Intercepted five passes, returning two for touchdowns, and handled kicking duties ... Led the basketball team to the school's first state title in that sport. He was named captain of the all-tournament team. Averaged a team-best 13.7 points and was third in the state in assists with 7.6 a game ... Four-event state track qualifier as a senior ... Ranked No. 1 academically in his class with a 4.0 grade-point average.

FUTURE: Football at Iowa


2013: Jeremy Morgan, Iowa City West

2012: James Harrington, Cedar Falls

2011: Austin Blythe, Williamsburg

2010: Harrison Barnes, Ames

2009: Keenan Davis, Cedar Rapids Washington

2008: Willie Argo, Davenport Assumption

2007: Tyler Nielsen, Humboldt

2006: Zac Sandvig, W.D.M. Valley

2005: Greg Offerman, Charles City

2004: Joel Osborn, Harlan

2003: Brooks McKowen, Wapsie Valley (Fairbank)