Covering HS, College Athletes: Q&A With Rivals’ Ryan Synder

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Ryan Snyder, 24, covers Penn State football for Rivals.com, a websites that focuses on college recruiting. He covers high school and college athletes connected to the Nittany Lions. A graduate of PSU as a broadcast journalism major, Snyder also works the radio boards for the local State College Spikes baseball team. And College Magazine dug down to learn his secrets to success.

CM: What do you do with Rivals.com?

RS: My goal for my individual job is recruiting Pennsylvania and whomever Penn State recruits. That’s kind of one of my main goals – to find all these main guys and find out who’s the best prospects. Now, in 2012, it’s all digital and the business is booming. The biggest thing I try to do is build relationships because no doubt it’s the most important thing.

CM: How did you come about getting the job?

RS: One of the other important things in this industry is that you need to have sources. Going to Penn State the last five years helped me to get to know a lot of the people I work with. That’s a big thing – knowing who to talk to and who to have relationships with. Another thing is having a passion for college athletics. I grew up reading Rivals so I was familiar with what went on there. I’ve been a Penn State fan my whole life and have been a subscriber (to Rivals.com), so I knew what people wanted to read.

CM: Why college athletics instead of professional?

RS: One thing I love is working with college kids. When I was a youth (playing football), there were always kids in high school that I looked up to and when they came down to work with us, I always appreciated that. As a professional, I feel like I can teach people things. That’s one thing I like getting through to people – that these athletes don’t have to do this and deal with the media.

CM: What do you enjoy doing more, writing for Rivals.com or doing your radio stuff?

RS: I’ll say Rivals but, put it this way, the thing about broadcasting is that you’re getting out there and you feel like your putting on a show. That’s what I like [about broadcasting] – doing the work, putting on a performance  and getting reactions back from people. But Rivals is also a lot of fun from working with the kids and working with the parents and building relationships. It’s a lot more rewarding. You can see results from that stuff. That’s one thing you take away when you go home at night and think about your day. You say, “I got a lot done today.”

CM: Is it tough to be a fan of the team and a reporter for the team?          

RS: Honestly, for me, it’s not. When you’re around a program and dealing with it every day, you don’t lose that fan in you. I like rooting for the team and hoping they win, but sometimes I’m rooting for a team because it will get me more subscribers and a better story.

CM: Favorite player that you’ve covered so far?

RS: There’s a kid coming to Penn State by the name of Eugene Lewis, and I’ve spent three years really getting to know his family and really getting to know him. The cool thing about him is that he’s a really down-to-earth kid. Earlier in his life, his dad, who’s now a pastor, had a drug problem early in life. Eugene was put in a really tough situation because of his father and he really helped his father. As Eugene got older, like 12 or 13, he was really mature for his age. And working with him, you realize that there are people who don’t come from the best situations of life and they do the best with what they can.

Freshman > Journalism > University of Maryland

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