Climbing to the top of the mountain: Freshman Tatum Snow is excelling as a multi-sport athlete at West Forsyth after transferring from Colorado

Published 7:17 pm Friday, November 10, 2023

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By Jay Spivey

For the Clemmons Courier

When you think of Colorado you think of the beautiful outdoors, skiing, and an abundance of snow-capped mountains.
So, of course, a transplant from Colorado came to the Clemmons area about a year and a half ago and has taken the West Forsyth athletic department by storm.
At 14 years old and a freshman, a girl named Snow, Tatum Snow, in fact, turned out to be the fastest runner on the girls cross-country team at West Forsyth this past season. And not only that, she’s a top-notch lacrosse player who will be showing off her skills in the spring.
Snow, the daughter of two parents in the medical field – father, Shawn, is an anesthesiologist, and mother, Whitney, is a physician’s assistant – along with brother Ayden, 19, and sister Emily, 12. The family moved down here in the summer of 2022, and within just a few months, Tatum Snow started middle-school at Meadowlark.
“I got into sports here really fast so that I could meet people,” she said. “So, like lacrosse and running pretty much. That helped a lot.”
Running became a passion of hers as a young child.
“I started when I was in third grade, I feel like,” Tatum Snow said. “Ever since then, I just ran a lot.”
Ever since then, she’s gone from basically nobody knowing who she was to the fastest girls runner on the team. This past Saturday at the NCHSAA Class 4-A state girls cross-country championship at Ivey M. Redmon Sports Complex in Kernersville, Tatum Snow finished 19:48.86, which put her in 56th place. The Titans girls finished 14th overall.
“I had heard about Tatum because she moved in, just like a few houses down from Sophie Cowart, who ran for me last year, runs at Campbell now,” Coach Nathan Newsome of the West Forsyth cross-country team said. “And her dad said that he bumped into (Tatum Snow) and the mom. And they were new to the area. And come to find out, he said, ‘They’re my next-door neighbors.’”
Upon hearing about Snow and that her family was living in Clemmons Newsome jumped at the prospects of having her on the team once she finished at Meadowlark.
“I knew about her,” Newsome said. “So, I would kind of keep my eyes open. Just anytime you hear that there’s some good incoming freshmen, you’re, ‘Oh, that’s cool.’
“We saw her at a couple functions where middle schools were also competing. So, I saw enough of her to know she was pretty talented. And I knew that I think she’d run like a 5-20-something, or maybe something in the teens, maybe 5:19 or something mile as like a seventh-grader. And I was like, ‘Ooh, that’s pretty fast.’ So, she came in with pretty good, I guess, pedigree or reputation.’
At Meadowlark, Tatum Snow had to adjust to a new city, new school, new friends, and new athletic teams.
“I think I did pretty good,” she said of her year at Meadowlark. “My county meet was not the best. I didn’t feel too good that meet. But every other meet was pretty good.”
At the same time, she’s been playing top-notch lacrosse, starting in fourth grade.
“I think I like them both equally right now,” Tatum Snow said. “I’m doing a club (lacrosse for NC Fusion) for fall, and in the spring, I’m going to do lacrosse for the school.”
Tatum Snow said while she was at Meadowlark, she didn’t know much about West Forsyth. After she left this past summer, that’s when she had her first conversation with Newsome.
“He just talked to me about how I was going to do stuff because I was also doing track with a different team (High Point Blaze),” she said. “So, he was talking to me about how I should like do my runs and stuff to help for cross-country season and still like track.”
This season has been an adjustment because she’s mad to run much longer distances than she’d ever run.
“It’s my first season running 5Ks,” Tatum Snow said. “Like, the first few meets were pretty difficult, but I feel like it’s been a lot easier running the 5Ks now.”
To gain endurance and lung capacity she just started running each week during the summer and fall.
“I’ve just been running a lot of distances,” Tatum Snow said. “Like at practice I’ve been running like 5, 6 miles every practice. And it’s helped a lot I feel like because if I wasn’t doing like regular runs, it wouldn’t help that much. So, I think regular running distance helps me a lot.”
Newsome has been working with Tatum Snow throughout the season.
“We have a good group of young ninth- and tenth-graders,” Newsome said. “And she’s good friends with my daughter (Hope), who’s a tenth-grader. So, I have gotten to be maybe see her around a little bit more than normal, you know, just from a coach’s standpoint.
“She’s just really calm, really kind of a mellow kind of kid. But what struck me is that’s unique, and you can’t teach kids is when the gun goes off, she takes off.”
Newsome added that her strong starts are unusual.
“There’re some kids that their practice, I guess for girls, practice queens,” he said. “But come race time they’re nervous, and she’s the exact opposite. I don’t know how much she really cares for practice in the long run, and that kind of stuff. When the gun goes off, man, she’s in the front. She goes.”
After living in Colorado Springs, which, according to Google, is 6,033 feet, lung capacity was never really an issue for her.
“He talks to me about breathing stuff,” Tatum Snow said. “He talks to me about breathing stuff a lot and like how to calm down my breathing. And when I’m racing, too, like, I think it’s the two-step rule or something where it’s like you breathe every two steps.”
Her season finale came this past Saturday in the state championship.
“She takes off really fast, like she gets out and then hangs on,” Newsome said. “I think that’s kind of something she learned when she was younger. She made the comment the other day because I said, ‘Man, you were out fast and really too fast.’
“And she said, ‘Yeah, I’ve just got to learn to get out and hang on.’ And she said, ‘It’s a lot easier to hang on in a 3K (than a 5K).’ I don’t want to snuff that out. I want her to keep going out.”
Now, that the season is over, and both Tatum Snow and Newsome can look at the season as whole, Newsome has seen nothing but positives.
“When I first saw her, did I think absolutely for sure she was going to be our No. 1 runner? No,” Newsome said. “I didn’t think she wouldn’t, but I didn’t necessarily think that she would. I just thought this could be interesting.”
Tatum Snow is going to take a short break before she starts indoor track, but she plans to run some middle distances and maybe a relay.
“I just like the team event. I just like having a team,” she said. “And I like the 8(00).”
As indoor track winds down in February, she’s debating on whether to run outdoor track and play lacrosse simultaneously next spring or just play one of them.
“I’m just going to try and make every lacrosse thing that I can, like during this indoor season,” Tatum Snow said. “And then when indoor ends, I’m just going to switch over to lacrosse, I think.”
Although Tatum said she will play lacrosse, she added that she hasn’t thought about how she’s going to approach her decision.
“I told her, I said, especially with a ninth-grader, I said try it and see what you like,” Newsome said. “You know, if they’ll work with you, I said, ‘None of us have been able to be in two places at once.’ But I said, “I did it. I was a baseball, track kid.’
“I said if you’re good at both, if you’re really good chances are you’re going to help both programs if you want to do it.”
Newsome is very open to letting his runners play multiple sports.
“I’ve never told a kid that, ‘Hey, you need to quit that sport and do this sport,’” he said. “I’ve never done that.”
Time will tell what Tatum Snow does in the next 3.5 years as a student and an athlete at West Forsyth. But she’s already climbing that mountain to excellence.
“I’m in cross-country season right now, so I like running right now,” she said. “So, maybe running (in college). Maybe, like a North Carolina school because I like the schools here a lot. I don’t know which one, though.”