Franklin Regional stabbing victim reunites with rugby teammates
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Less than a week after an 8-inch knife plunged into the side of his chest, puncturing his lung and forever changing his once-unguarded perception of walking down a crowded hallway at school, Nick Snyder reunited with his Kiski Valley rugby teammates at practice.
It won't be long until the fast-recovering junior from Franklin Regional gives the sport another try.
When he arrived at the in-progress workout Tuesday, players stopped and surrounded him, assistant coach Keith Erwin handing him a bag filled with gifts from other rugby teams.
The moment was greeted with a smile from Snyder, 17, a starting first-year player who has taken his life-threatening ordeal in stride, emerging from the scrum with renewed outlook.
Addressing his teammates, Snyder said,“I'd join you guys, but my chest hurts.”
He observed the remainder of practice but has been cleared medically to return to action in early May.
Participating in sports, though — he also is a state-qualifying swimmer at Franklin Regional — has turned into a privilege, just as waking up and hugging his parents, or eating a pretzel have become. The kid with the Twitter handle @thepretzelguy never will take playing games for granted.
“The fact that I am even here makes it seem even more like a miracle,” said Snyder, the lone Franklin Regional player on the U-19 Kiski Valley club team. “You never learn how strong you are until you're put in that type of spot.”
He went back to school Tuesday for the district's optional return day, a type of readjustment event before classes officially begin Wednesday, a full week after the knife attack. Alex Hribal, 16, of Murrysville is accused of injuring 20 students and a security guard during the attack. Police charged Hribal with four counts of attempted homicide and 21 counts of aggravated assault.
Snyder's presence at practice seemed to brighten a snowy, frigid, early evening practice in Vandergrift.
“That's a warrior right there,” sophomore player Tyler Worthing said of Snyder. “You have to respect him. You never wish something like that on anyone.”
Snyder said he stayed conscious during the ordeal, from the stabbing to his arrival at Children's Hospital in Lawrenceville. He said a routine morning turned into chaos when a fire alarm sounded, sending waves of students through a tightening hallway.
“When I heard the fire alarm, I was coming out of the bathroom. I came down to the first floor and started moving with the mob,” Snyder said. “I ran right into him, and the knife went into the right side of my chest. I didn't see that he had a knife. I didn't realize I had been stabbed until I saw all the blood.”
The knife, Snyder said, went a half-inch into his chest just below his right breast. A small wound remains, stapled closed.
“You see people get stabbed in the movies all the time, and you wonder, “Wonder what that feels like?' ” he said. “Now I know.”
Snyder said his lung collapsed on the way to the hospital but quickly re-inflated and was getting full oxygen, a credit to being in swim shape.
“It's incredible to think he'll be back so soon,” Erwin said. “I guess that's what you get with such a well-conditioned athlete.”
Kiski Valley defeated South Hills on Friday, 39-17, rallying around Snyder and dedicating the win to him.
“We all got together (last) Thursday and talked about how lucky Nick is,” senior Andrew Carson said. “It's the scariest thing ever. We're so thankful that it wasn't as bad as it could have been.”
“Practice that next day was different, just quiet and serious,” Kiski Valley coach Seth Erwin said.
Snyder has been overwhelmed with calls, cards and well-wishes from family, friends and strangers. When he finally looked at his cell phone after getting discharged Friday, he had 551 text messages.
His goodie bag contained signed rugby balls from several teams, including Penn State, IUP, and Burrell.
“It shows how close and supportive rugby people are,” Snyder said. “There you have Burrell, our biggest rival, and they send me a ball. It means a lot.”
Snyder also reeled in another surprise Saturday when he went trout fishing with his father, Rob, a former rugby player with the Pittsburgh Harlequins.
Nick became interested in the game when his father took him to a college match last year.
“He loves to compete,” Rob Snyder said. “It's tough to keep him down.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Lowly job likely awaits former Pittsburgh police chief after prison
- Cole outduels Mets rookie, carries Pirates to victory
- Hempfield pair caught in vehicle scam
- Pirates’ McCutchen laughs off pay stub leak
- Pirates notebook: Stewart, Cole develop rapport
- Online donors help Hempfield teen whose wallet was stolen
- Trooper fatally shoots burglary suspect inside Somerset Twp. grocery store
- Shareholder vote causes ATI to review executive pay packages
- ‘Dope sick’ man in custody in Mt. Pleasant stick-up
- Connellsville’s Wiltrout sets another record, wins 2nd PIAA title
- New Kensington Megan’s Law offender jailed on new child porn charges