By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Managing Editor
Kansas State University football coach Bill Snyder got his start in coaching with Santa Ana Football High (Calif.) from 1969 to 1973. He has since helped establish KSU as a top program in the Big 12 Conference.
In a Q&A with FNF Coaches, Snyder listed the keys for a high school coach to commit to his players’ success in the classroom.
- Track the progress of each student-athlete in the classroom.
- Get to know the players’ families.
- Engage with the faculty and share ideas.
- Assign position coaches to subjects, and have them engage with staff in that department.
What’s the most important thing a coach can do at the end of a season?
“The thing is to make sure the youngsters are invested in academics. Coaches should understand that an element of their responsibility is what the kids are doing behaviorally and academically. It should be an ongoing thing, with coaches digging deeply into the progress of each youngster in the classroom and in terms of social development.”
How would a coach dig deeper into those aspects of a player’s life?
“Get to know their families more. Pay attention to the families of young players. Sometimes, there’s not a good relationship there. It’s not because everybody is unwilling; it’s that the time element prevents that from taking place.”
How should a coach track a player’s performance in the classroom?
“I’d suggest engaging with the faculty. Hopefully a program is in place with an exchange of ideas and thoughts that would help promote both their academic programs and your football program. Every school is different; there are small rural schools with athletes that play all sports. My way of thinking is that’s a good thing. At other schools, football is played year-round. Then you have everybody invested in the program. Those players should get invested in a strength and conditioning program as well as any football element that is allowed depending on the rules of the state.”
Can you give specific examples of how a coach would engage with teachers within the school?
“What we’ve done is assign each coach to a department within the academic community. We’ve got a coach responsible for the business college, another for the architecture school. At the high school level, a coach should be responsible for math, another for English, and so on. Those coaches interact with the leaders of those departments. What can we do to help your department? Let’s bring you up to date on what’s going on with our program. The purpose of it is to find a commonality with faculty members and let them know you genuinely care about the academic value at that particular school.”
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