By Chris Stathopoulos – In the annals of NCAA Division I football, Bill Snyder, head coach of the Kansas State Wildcats and William Jewell alumnus, has firmly cemented his legacy as one of the very best in the game. Coach Snyder, who initially went to the University of Missouri-Columbia as well as a community college in his hometown of St. Joseph, transferred to William Jewell College in 1959, playing defensive back for Norris Patterson and the William Jewell football team. A physical education major, Snyder also minored in Spanish, which he taught at the high school level in his first year out of college.
When Snyder became the 32nd head football coach in the history of Kansas State University in 1989, he took over a program that was one of the most futile in Division I history, having had only 4 winning seasons in the 44 years prior to his hiring. In just 10 years, however, Coach Snyder led the Wildcats to an 11-0 regular season record in 1998, which also saw the team ranked #1 in national polls for the first time in its then-102-year history. At the heart of Snyder’s success in Manhattan is what he calls “The Sixteen Goals,” which are:
- Commitment – to common goals and to being successful.
- Unselfishness – there is no “I” in TEAM.
- Unity – come together as never before.
- Improve – everyday…as a player, person, and student.
- Be Tough – mentally and physically.
- Self-Discipline – do it right, don’t accept less.
- Great Effort
- Eliminate Mistakes – don’t beat yourself.
- Never Give Up
- Don’t Accept Losing – if you do so one time, it will be easy to do so for the rest of your life.
- No Self-Limitations – expect more of yourself.
- Expect To Win – and truly believe we will.
- Consistency – your very, very best every time.
- Leadership – everyone can set the example.
- Responsibility – you are responsible for your own performance.
Coach Snyder believes that, much like the game of football, the game of life is not always controllable. However, Snyder believes that success—in life or in football—is more about the process than the actual goal itself. Similarly, the intrinsic values that the sixteen goals are based upon are the key to their success. In Coach Snyder’s words, “If you do those things, if you commit yourself to doing those things…you will become successful.” In Snyder’s role as head coach, he has had the responsibility to help guide and direct hundreds of young men to be successful in all facets of life, and his sixteen goals have been instrumental in making a positive impact on Kansas State student athletes for two decades.
When reflecting on his time at William Jewell, Coach Snyder recalled a great appreciation for its family environment and excellent educators. Of the lessons he learned on the Hill, Snyder says the list could go on and on, but the most important lesson is very simple: “Hard work pays off.”