What those around her realized, and what she would quickly learn, was that she had just received the Connecticut High School Coaches Association’s highest honor for a volleyball player.
Sneddon, who is called “Tom Brady” by her coaches for the amount of preparation she puts into her craft, was named the CHSCA Volleyball Player of the Year for 2019-20, becoming the first New Canaan Ram to earn the honor. She received the award during the CHSCA All-State volleyball banquet at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington on Dec. 19.
It’s an honor she never saw coming.
“I didn’t even know that they called my name; it just didn’t process for me,” Sneddon said with a smile. “Then I heard the Greenwich coach (Steve Lapham) say ‘Congratulations, Elle Sneddon,’ and everybody started clapping. It’s surreal to not only to be considered at everyone else’s level, but to receive an award for the top player is just crazy.”
New Canaan coach Kevin Marino said that while Sneddon may have been surprised, the award was well-deserved.
“She’s a big reason that we had the huge turnaround from the year before,” Marino said. “She’s always pushing everybody in the practices, pushing everybody in the games, and engaging with our team. It’s cool that the hard work has paid off for her.”
Sneddon, who saw some varsity time as a sophomore, took over as the starting setter this year and put up impressive stats. Doing a bit of everything, she collected 522 assists, 212 digs, 73 kills and 67 aces as the team’s first server.
Being the setter puts Sneddon in the middle of the offense, and she’s stellar at distributing the ball and communicating with her teammates.
“I like the authority,” Sneddon said of the position. “I know that it’s my ball, I go for it, and I have the ability to make the play. I like being able to interact with everyone on the court. They can tell me what they want to change and I can tell them what I might want to change here and there. It’s fascinating.”
“Elle’s personality is very strong,” Marino said. “She has no problem communicating and she has no problem making sure that people are doing the right thing. She’s just being herself. She has no issues with doing things the way she does them.”
Sneddon is part of a talented and deep junior class which helped New Canaan’s volleyball team nearly double its win total in 2019, following an 8-12 season with a 15-7 campaign which included berths in the FCIAC and Class LL playoffs.
The Rams had nine juniors on the roster, and graduates just four seniors.
The juniors refer to themselves as “The Soph Squad,” signifying the year in which they joined the varsity team. It’s a group which has grown together while playing club volleyball, as well as on the Rams’ freshman team.
“It’s fantastic,” Sneddon said. “I have my group of friends and they’re so great, but my volleyball friends are like a breath of fresh air. They’re all really, really cool people, great teammates and great people to be around.”
“The experience most of them had as sophomores was big, but the biggest thing is they’ve learned how to win,” Marino said. “In a close game, they know what has to be done. They’re going to do anything and work really hard to get there.”
Sneddon is now playing for the Northeast Volleyball Club out of Wilton, and she said she’s having fun continuing to play the sports and meeting new people.
Above all, Sneddon is absorbing all the information she can about volleyball, watching plenty of film on Hudl and asking questions of her coaches. That’s what led to her being referred to by the name of a certain veteran quarterback from New England.
“We call Elle ‘Tom Brady’ because she watches five hours of film each week and she’s always ready to go every single day,” Marino said. “She’s always asking questions about how she can get better. It’s like nothing I’ve seen out of a high school athlete before.”
With a promising season coming up, Sneddon is excited to get back on the court as a Ram senior.
“We’re going to be so good next year,” she said. “We want to put up a banner which we’ve never done before, and we want some medals. It’s just great to be a part of a team that’s this good. On the bus ride back (after this season ended), we were all crying and getting off the bus, no one wanted to leave. We were all just standing there in silence for a while.
“Everyone loves the sport and loves this team. I’m really excited that I get to have another season with them.”