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K-State coach Bill Snyder's success rooted in lessons learned from his mother

BERRY TRAMEL COMMENTARY — Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder credits his mother, Marionetta, for his '16 goals,' principles and values. “I would never cross her. She was as tough as anyone could be. She taught me so much about values,” Snyder said.
by Berry Tramel Published: September 20, 2012

“A lot is made around here of the 16 goals, the principles, the values,” Snyder said. “Those all came from my mother. Every single one of them.

“I would never cross her. She was as tough as anyone could be. She taught me so much about values.”

Marionetta Snyder worked 12 hours a day, six days a week at a downtown department store. The Snyders lived in a downtown apartment, because they couldn't afford a car and Marionetta didn't want to take the bus.

Bill slept on a Murphy bed, which pulls out from the wall. His mother slept on a cot.

“We lived six blocks from the YMCA,” Snyder said. “My mother made sure after school, after activities, I always went to the YMCA, so she always knew where I was.

“I was vulnerable. A young guy could have gotten himself into a lot of trouble.”

The Y and athletics kept Snyder grounded. He played ball on a sandlot near his apartment or on the brick streets of St. Joe. Swam at the Y.

There were worse places to be in the annals of time than St. Joseph, Mo., in the 1950s.

“It was really a significant time in my life,” Snyder said. “I enjoyed it. I had good friends. Nice community. Always around a lot of wonderful people that impacted my life.”

Walter Cronkite's daughter was one of Snyder's elementary school teachers. And 60 years later, Snyder recalls the men in St. Joe who influenced him.

His grandfather, George Owens. Basketball coach Richard Shroutt. Vice principal Basil Hohen. Football coaches Bob Matheson and Jerry Hampton.

Snyder eventually would go to the University of Missouri, transfer to William Jewell College and begin a coaching career that included a decade in California high schools before latching on with Fry, for whom he worked 13 years before taking the K-State job.

But it all started long before then, with a little woman who instilled in her son discipline and a work ethic and the understanding that responsibility extended to a yellow Mercury convertible.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at