UNSCRIPTED 1: A Conversation with Skylar Schneider
“Just one year with the team was already a dream come true really, and once I was over in Europe with them it kinda hit me, like man I don’t want to be with any other team in the world.”
Skylar Schneider is at a defining juncture, when youth fades and adulthood begins - a transition that has stymied many young professional athletes.
Schneider’s childhood memories are vivid with family road trips with her dad at the wheel and her older sister, Samantha Schneider, preparing for her next race. “I remember during elementary school going across country with my dad and watching Sam race. Sam grew up watching our mom and dad race, and I grew up watching Sam race.”
Schneider reflects during our conversation that it was her older sister’s class and determination as a cyclist that drove her desire to want to race. She shared with me her memory that while at the young age of nine, out on a ride with her father, she confidently boasted that she could sprint like her older sister (eight years her senior) and she took off in a determined sprint to prove that she too had what it would take to be a cyclist. She has never looked back since.
Schneider made her professional road racing debut at the age of 13 and went on to becoming one of the most formidable road racing juniors in the world. Her palmares include a silver medal at the 2016 Junior Road World Championship in Qatar followed by impressive results racing the European circuit in 2017.
Schneider, however, is the rare prodigy whose next chapter could be more interesting than the first as she finds opportunity within her teammates - the Dutch team Boels Dolmans. A rarity for American racers, Skylar found herself accepting a one-year contract with the team in 2017.Fast forward to the summer of 2018 and the budding young speed racer had signed a two-year contract with the top reigning women’s cycling teams in the world.
“This year I didn’t have any personal results but when I went over my one goal was to be a good teammate, and I think some people think they have to prove themselves by results - but I worked on proving myself - even for the first one or two hours of the race - and if I didn’t finish no big deal because I still contributed to my teammates and that’s what validated my own worth to the team.”
Schneider is a coming-of-age story about a young woman stretching into adulthood while rooting herself - finding herself - amongst the actualization that she is doing exactly what she loves to do. Her acute awareness of her independence is imbued with work ethic and extraordinary natural talent. How time and experience will take Schneider to a higher level as a professional cyclist for one of the best women’s cycling teams in the world is open to her and she’s willing to put in the work.
As Schneider and I wrapped up our conversation she left me with one final comment that sent my mind hurtling through my own memories as a young woman: “Find your passion. Good things can happen if you work hard, stay focused and you don’t give up.”
Keep an eye on this young woman - I believe we have just seen the beginning.