Athlete of the week: Austen Snellings is a rising star for Troup soccer

Published 8:15 am Wednesday, May 1, 2024

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When Austen Snellings was 4 years old he put his bat down for the last time and decided T-ball was not for him. His mother, Tammy, enrolled him in the Troup County Parks and Rec soccer program and he never looked back, falling in love with the sport instantly and has seen that love grow ever since.

“My first actual game was an Atlanta game. I think I was about 10, pushing 11, and then when it really clicked I started watching games online like on YouTube and other sports channels,” Snellings said. “After I watched that game I was like Mom, we’ve got to start getting soccer stuff and everything and after that, I’ve just watched soccer ever since it’s my favorite thing.”

Fast forward over a decade and Snellings is one of the key pieces on the Troup boys soccer team. The sophomore did not make an instant impact and was used sparingly during his freshman year, but he waited, watched and learned so he could seize his opportunity when it came. That opportunity presented itself coming into this season. With a clear need for a central defender in the back, Snellings knew it was his chance to earn a starting role.

“I knew that we were losing a lot of talented seniors last year, so I knew coming into this

Troup had one of its best seasons in program history this year and Snellings was instrumental for the Tigers. Despite his relative youth, he gives the team a strong and commanding presence in the back. 

“I know I can still be immature and I’m not the most mature guy on the team, but when the time is needed for me to be a leader I’m there,” he said. 

Snellings has a keen ability not to get overly frustrated. He understands there are going to be wins and losses, ups and downs, and is able to ride those waves of emotions with a steely demeanor.

That is not to say Snellings doesn’t feel the emotions of the game. When he scored Troup’s first playoff goal since 2011 in the second half against Bainbridge in the opening round of the playoffs an explosion of euphoria overtook him.

“I can’t even describe the feeling, I wouldn’t want my first varsity goal to come any other way,” he said. “Honestly, I was nervous at first but after that timid start I locked in the game was ready. I think it was the best game I’ve ever played ever since I started playing soccer.”

Snellings’ goal tied the game 1-1 in the second half which eventually sent the match to extra time and then a penalty kick shootout. The Tigers lost the penalty kick shootout and Snellings missed a penalty. He has been unable to stop thinking about it since, but it has just added fuel to the fire as he aims to come back even better in 2025.

“That was the first time I cried in a really long time, probably in about eight or nine years,” he said. “I can’t stop thinking about how if I had made that penalty we would still probably be in the playoffs. I’m going to use that feeling to push myself to be better.”

Soccer is not a seasonal sport for Snellings, it’s his lifeblood. When he isn’t putting on the Troup uniform he is playing for his travel ball team Georgia Storm out of Carrollton.

Snellings will be a junior next season and expected to take on even more of a leadership role. He has all the characteristics and respect of his teammates to do so. One of the main reasons he commands so much respect from his Troup teammates is the fact that they have grown up together and helped found the Long Cane’s boys soccer program. He forms a strong bond with the large contingent of sophomores on the team.

“We grew up being the leaders at Long Cane and it was tough at first, but now the program is doing good,” Snellings said. 

Troup’s towering figure in defense is a warm and friendly presence off the soccer field. Find him between the lines and he plays with an edge and stands out as an intimidating factor for opposing teams to deal with and deal with him they will have to as he has two seasons left in blue and gold.