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K-State Sports Extra: You Will Win This Battle – A Letter from Coach Snyder and a K-State Soccer Legacy

By Austin Siegel

"You're probably never going to play sports again."

Think of a kid hearing that, who never suffered an injury and didn't know anything was particularly wrong. Picture yourself in middle school, sitting in the emergency room and listening to the words "never going to play sports again," from someone you've never met.  "I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know the extent of what was wrong," Maguire Sullivan said. "It came out of nowhere."

Sitting on the steps of Buser Family Park almost eight years later, the first commit from the third recruiting class in K-State Soccer history is surrounded by evidence this doctor was wrong. But all the way back in middle school, someone else Sullivan had never met wrote her a letter.  And in purple ink with an unmistakable horizontal font, Bill Snyder got it absolutely right. 

Sullivan was preparing to focus on her high school soccer career as she wrapped up the eighth grade. 

And then she passed out.  

It started happening during basketball games and track meets, but sometimes, Sullivan would be sitting in class when her heart would start racing, faster and faster.  She went to the hospital after a CrossFit workout with her soccer team. Her heart had started racing again, before Sullivan finally passed out. Her Mom picked her up and it was off to the emergency room in Wichita.

That was the first time she heard about Supraventricular tachycardia, or SVT. "Her electrical system was messed up," Tomara Sullivan said. "And they had no clue why." That was enough, for at least one ER doctor in Wichita, to tell Maguire that she was done playing sports. 

The next stop for the Sullivan family was Kansas City. Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City had another option to diagnose and correct the problem: exploratory heart surgery. Even with a word like "exploratory" in front it, heart surgery is still heart surgery. But for Sullivan and her family, this was the second opinion they were hoping for.  

"The doctor in Kansas City reassured her, 'You're going to be fine. You'll play sports again.' She was just ready to get it over with," Tomara Sullivan said. The answer turned out to be something Sullivan was born with, an extra pathway in heart. Surgeons froze this pathway to prevent her body's electrical currents from entering that part of Sullivan's heart. This kept her heartbeat steady without medicine or a pacemaker. 

Sullivan spent three months slowly building back her cardio. The opportunity to get back on a soccer field was the light at the end of the tunnel during a difficult rehab. 

And then she got a letter.  A portion of the note, typed in purple font, reads: 

God has brought you through difficult times before, and I know He is going to help you make it through this one too. Until he does, our prayers are with you. Your faith and trust will make things better each day. May the Lord bless you and be with you and yours in a very special way. 

Written across the top, is a handwritten note: Proud of you Maguire. Keep up the fight. You will win this battle. And thank you for being a great Wildcat fan. 

Warm Regards, Bill Snyder

And the next time she heard from a K-State head coach, it was to offer her a scholarship. 


Read the full story via K-State Sports Extra

Learn more about the Ward Family Heart Center at Children's Mercy