Alana Snow Carries Family Tradition With Great Britain Into European Championship
Russ Snow was beaming with pride as he embraced his daughter, Alana, on the field in Oklahoma City after UCLA won the national championship earlier this month.
It was in that moment that Alana accomplished something that is rarely done in softball.
“It’s quite a tale and not ordinary in any sense of the word,” she said in a phone interview from England. “I played rec league when I was younger, played high school ball and then filled my summers country hopping with the Great Britain National Team. I never actually played a summer of travel ball.”
The Snow family spent the school year in Carlsbad, Calif., where Alana competed in multiple sports. She grew up playing volleyball, basketball, softball and track and field, competing in the latter two simultaneously. She graduated from Carlsbad High in 2017 with 12 varsity letters.
Her summers were spent in England. Alana’s mother, Cindy Gilbert, is a former track and field Olympian for the United State and Russ was a player-coach in the men’s fastpitch leagues in Great Britain. Her brother, Scott, ran track at UCLA. The family holds dual citizenship status.
Shortly after softball became an Olympic sport, Russ was appointed head coach of the women’s national team until 2000. His involvement with the program opened the door for his daughter to be exposed to international softball. She was first exposed to the team when she was 12.
“They had a session going on with their 13-and-under team, their 16-and-under and their 19-and-under going all at the same time,” Russ reflected. “They put her with the 12s to start with and I knew that wasn’t going to last long. When they started throwing, one of the players yelled at the coach and said she couldn’t play with them because she’d kill somebody with her arm.
"So she got promoted on the spot to the 16s, and by the end of the day, she was scrimmaging against the 19s and some of the men. She fielded a ground ball at shortstop and threw out one of the fastest guys on the men’s team from the hole.”
That tryout set it all in motion for Alana. She proved herself worthy each summer, moved up in the ranks and now, at 20 years old, she’s a member of the women’s national team and preparing to compete in the European Championship with hopes of qualifying for the 2020 Olympics.
“Everyone wants an opportunity to represent their country and their heritage on the biggest stage possible, which is the Olympic Games,” Alana said. “Our goal is ideally to inspire the younger girls, bring more interest to the sport and to continue to let it grow. The program has advanced so much in the past six years. I remember being a young girl and softball wasn’t a big thing here. Now, it’s a real cat fight to get on the team.”
Alana joins a roster with familiar collegiate names such as USF’s Georgina Corrick, Pacific’s Amy Moore and Louisiana’s Nerissa Myers.
It’s also the first year that the program received funding from Sport England in the form of £62,500, or roughly $79,277.
“In the last 10 years, GB has not placed lower than fifth in Europe,” said Alana. “Which is bounds and strides better than what it was. Last year, the women’s team got third. We received some funding and it really means a lot to us. We’ve made this big enough and done well enough that England wants to invest in us and honestly, that means so much to us.”
Great Britain begins pool play on Sunday in Ostrava, Czech Republic. It will compete against Greece, Germany, Croatia and Switzerland.
“I think there is a lot of pressure that goes along with this tournament,” said Alana with the thought of softball not being in the 2024 Olympics. “I call it periphery, the things that go on, on the outside of the sport. This could be it, this could be our only chance in our whole lives to become Olympians. I truly wouldn’t be the person I am today without my opportunities that I’ve had with Great Britain.”