Surrounded by family members, King's Fork High School senior track and field standout Gabrielle Snipes formally signs to be a student-athlete at Hampton University on Monday.
Surrounded by family members, King's Fork High School senior track and field standout Gabrielle Snipes formally signs to be a student-athlete at Hampton University on Monday.

A Pirate’s life for Snipes

Published 10:24pm Wednesday, March 26, 2014

King’s Fork track and field standout Gabrielle Snipes signaled her career’s ascent to the next level when she formally committed to compete for and attend Hampton University during a ceremony on Monday at King’s Fork High School.

“It is the best feeling in the whole wide world,” she said. “I couldn’t be more than blessed. It’s really just a great feeling to know that somebody wants me with a full ride.”

And that was the starting offer from the Hampton Pirates coach, she said.

“When I went on an official visit, I loved it,” she said, referring to a trip made to the school toward the beginning of 2014.

Various complications kept her and Hampton’s coach from re-connecting, but she said a long process concluded last week when she got the papers to sign.

Monday’s ceremony officially marked the fulfillment of a goal she has had “ever since I started running track when I was 7,” she said. “Ever since then, since I love track, I was like, ‘This is what I want to do; I want to run collegiately, professionally.’ So this is just a step closer to my actual goal.”

“Ultimately, she wants to be a professional athlete,” said her mother, Tracey Snipes, who helped get Gabrielle into the sport that the King’s Fork senior’s father, Paul Snipes, had achieved success in.

Early on, Gabrielle Snipes ran with the Suffolk Stars Track Club, run by Lakeland High School activities director Gregory Rountree.

While running with Lazers Track Club at age 8, she became the 2004 Primary Girls 100-meter Amateur Athletic Union National Champion.

“It means everything to us,” Tracey Snipes said. “Gabrielle’s been dedicated to sports since she’s been 7 years old, and to see the fruits of all of her labor pay off, it’s just outstanding.”

“We always wanted our kids to do better than us, and Gabrielle did that,” Paul Snipes said on Monday to the crowd of family, friends, coaches and teammates that attended the ceremony.

He said he dreamt of going to the Penn Relays when he competed in high school, and though he never made it there, Gabrielle did. While he went to states once, she has qualified every year of high school. While he set one school record, she holds five, including those for the indoor 55-meter dash and 4×200-meter relay and the outdoor 100-meter dash, long jump and 4×100-meter relay.

Witnessing his daughter’s latest achievement of earning a full ride, he said, “I am very happy.”

Paul and Tracey Snipes had been putting away money to help their youngest pay for college.

“We did not realize how well that she would perform on the high school level,” Paul Snipes said.

With her full ride, she plans to major in sports management. On the track, where Snipes knows she will be utilized as a short sprinter, she aims to qualify for the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I championships as a freshman.

“That’s what I really want to do — make sure my times continue to drop and train hard so I can get to that level,” she said.

Snipes reflected on those who helped her reach her present level of success.

“My coaches, family, friends, everybody has really helped me get to this moment,” she said. “Without them, this would have never happened.”

Along with Snipes’ other coaches on Monday, King’s Fork coach Marvin Ricks delivered an exhortation to her for when she reaches college.

“Learn as if your next meal depends on it, because inevitably, it will,” he said. “Be diligent and never grow weary of doing the right thing.”

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