By Mark Janssen
MANHATTAN, Kan - If Bill Snyder had his way, he'd be referred to as "teacher" Snyder, and not "coach" Snyder.
And it would not be teacher/coach of football, but teacher/coach of life.
To the cast of thousands when it comes to K-State fans, the 71-year-old Snyder will continue to be known as "coach" Snyder. But to the departing senior members of this 2010 Wildcat football team, they know differently.
"Coach Snyder is all about life lessons," said walk-on linebacker Jarett Wright. "If you commit to what he says, you will learn a lot about life, and if you continue to apply it after K-State, I'm sure it will make you successful in life. I've come to learn that football is a mini-life. He helps in making you a good person as long as you consistently buy in to everything that he stresses."
Those words come from a seldom-used substitute, but they are the same for the every-Saturday starting Wildcat.
"Coach Snyder made me into a man. Before coach came back, I was trying to find my identity," said fifth-year senior Kenneth Mayfield. "He's taught me to be a man and I hope most would consider an outstanding citizen off the field. I will cherish the time I was allowed to spend with him for the rest of my life."
Coaching, and teaching, has been said to be about improving the individual's capacity to focus and learn, and to urge excellence in a way that the individual can find that ultimate level of performance from within himself.
"Coach Snyder was never satisfied. He was always striving for you to find a little bit more within yourself," said center Wade Weibert. "Don't be satisfied with what you have, or what you've done, but try to get more, strive to be better because we have only one shot at this."
When players talk of Snyder, they talk of work-ethic, and attention to detail, and family.
"The program is about family, and working together," said defensive end Antonio Felder. "Coach Snyder is our father. That's how we look up to him. We can go into his office and talk about every subject there is. I've become a lot better man because of being in this program."
Wide receiver Adrian Hilburn added of his coach, "He pushes you to be the best that you can be in every aspect of life - family, faith, football - everything. His ways may seem old-fashion, but the man is legendary. Coach Snyder is what he is, and I thank God for the opportunity to have been around him."
He is who he is.
That's what kicker Josh Cherry saw, as well: "Coach is the same when the cameras are on, or off in private times. A lot of coaches can put on a good front for the media, but he is who he is at all times. He cares about every player on this team."
That's to Cherry, a starter, and to Lucas Hamm, a second-teamer: "He cares about all of us, and if you apply his areas of teaching to your life ... like time management, you can be successful. With coach, everything that you do on the field can be transferred to real life. He teaches and coaches you to be a good player, but also a good person."