Jun 17, 2022

Bill Snyder shares his early story with retired educators

Posted Jun 17, 2022 11:31 AM

Former K-State football coach Bill Snyder credits educators for having a great impact on his life. That was a message during remarks to a Kansas Association of Retired School Personnel audience in Junction City Thursday. "The people that have had the greatest impact on my life are people like you, people who sat in classrooms with me, people who guided me, people who gave me direction, people who redirected me in many, many ways. " 

Snyder told the story about his childhood. "My mother worked at a downtown department store in St. Joseph, MO.. " He added that she worked 12 hours a day, six days a week and didn't make a lot of money. They lived in a one room apartment, his mother never drove an automobile in her life and she had to walk to work. At night he slept on a murphy bed and his mother on a cot. " But I thought we were rich because of my mother and all that she did for me."

Snyder attended the University of Missouri where he struggled and after one semester returned to St. Joseph where he attended community college with no plans to further his college education beyond that level until the football coach and athletic director for William Jewell College, Dr. Norris Patterson, came to see him. Snyder decided to attend the school and between the jobs that were provided and some need based scholarship money worked his way through college. "I didn't want my mother to have to pay for anything so I made sure that I had enough employment in order to pay what the scholarships did not pay and I was able to do exactly that. " He worked his way through college and went into teaching at Gallatin High School in the small town of Gallatin, MO.

Snyder told a humorous story that left his audience laughing out loud about how he was required to take a foreign language and he had enrolled in one that was unfamiliar to him, Spanish. He took the necessary two classes. " And I thought I'll take one more  and that will give me a minor, and I'll have a minor in something. Big mistake in my life!" When he arrived in Gallatin he was informed by the principal that he would be teaching four classes of Spanish. "I don't know if it was fortunately or unfortunately such a small school, the largest class was seven students and the smallest was four." Snyder recounted how he stayed up late every night just to prepare for the next day's lesson. " I was one step ahead, that's it, period!

Later Snyder would become a teacher and assistant football coach at Indio High School in Indio, California. On his first day he learned about his teaching responsibilities including physical education and unexpectedly for one semester....Spanish!  

After serving as a graduate assistant in the football program at USC, he returned to Indio High School for three years as the head football coach. He then moved to Foothill High School in Santa Anna, California with the intention of becoming an assistant  football coach and physical education teacher. While laughing, explained that on the first day the principal informed him that a teacher had left. "And we would like for you...you guessed it right?  So for one class a day I'm back in the classroom with the Spanish students. I thought I will never get away from this, I've got to get into college coaching where that doesn't take place. "

But one point was clear in his remarks. While he may have forgotten the names of some acquaintances over the years he could clearly remember the names of his teachers. "I can recall them so quickly and dream up  the images because of the impact that they had."

Sherman would go on to coach at Austin College, North Texas State, the University of Iowa and finally Kansas State University where he took on the massive job of trying to build up the Wildcat football program.