Dec. 21, 2012
This story appeared in Friday's K-State Sports Extra. A daily email newsletter for information on receiving Sports Extra click here.
By Mark Janssen
To the eye, they read so simple … almost generic. To the ear, they sound so simple … almost generic.
But Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder insists that when the Wildcats have enjoyed their most success, it has come in years when the highest percentage of players dialed into the “16 Goals for Success.”
Like in 2011 and again in 2012.
Simplistic words like: commitment, unity, unselfishness, enthusiasm, responsibility, improve. Generic phrases like: great effort, never give up, expect to win, no self-limitations, and so on.
Lumped together, and bought into, Snyder summarizes, “If each player achieves each of these goals, we, as a team, will always be successful.”
Snyder declines to accept invention of his pet words/phrases, but instead says, “They come from my mother (Marionetta). The foundation comes from how she raised me, and what she meant to me. How you buy into those values is who you are.”
Growing up in a single-parent home in St. Joseph, Mo., Snyder said, “My mother was a stickler for having everything in its proper place and doing things right. Our apartment wasn’t much, but it was always clean. It was small enough that when my area was a mess, then her area was a mess. There wasn’t my space and her space. It was our space.”
He would add, “She worked hard. If my work ethic came from anyone, it came from my mother.”
Coming to K-State from the University of Iowa in 1989, Snyder said, “Did we have the ‘Hawkeye Rules for Success? No, but I would guess that any teacher and any coach addresses those areas in their own way without necessarily giving them a name.”
No matter the profession, Snyder said, “When you’re taught how to become successful, the areas where we focus our attention are going to be mentioned, or at least some of them will be.”
It was at a gathering of Golden Cats that former offensive lineman Russ Stange told how his son had the ’16 Goals’ on his bedroom wall. And it was during a summer day that a Kansas City realtor dropped by the football office and told Snyder that she had the ‘16 Goals’ posted on the desk of each of her associates.
Snyder is the first to admit that the ’16 Goals for Success’ are no more than words on a piece of paper … unless they are put to work. Easily, he says, “They are words that pretty soon can go in one ear and out the other unless totally stressed every single day.”
For that reason, not only does the Wildcat football team hear Snyder verbalizing the ’16 Goals,’ but they are printed on small cards to be carried at all times. They are posted on the locker room walls, and they are a focus item on each player’s playbook.
“We want them to be in front of the players at all times,” said Snyder. “We don’t want it to be hit and miss.”
But in reality, Snyder says, “The question is whether the players abide by them and use them in their life. I don’t make that happen, but they do. It’s up to them whether to place an importance on these particular values. If they don’t, they’re just words on a piece of paper. The important thing is not the words, but how the words are represented.”
The ’16 Goals for Success’ have never been talked about more than with last year’s K-State team that was picked to finish eighth in the Big 12, but ended up winning 10 games, playing in the Cotton Bowl and being ranked as high as No. 8 in the nation.
“Did they place a greater emphasis on them than past teams? I can’t answer that,” said Snyder, “but they did put a great team of emphasis on them.”
This year K-State was picked to finish sixth in the Big 12. Today the Wildcats are ranked No. 5 in the BCS poll and headed to the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3 to play Oregon.
It great part, the successes have come through Snyder’s daily emphasis on the ’16 Goals’ to the point of giving tests.
“Tests are given on a regular basis, which can be as simple as to list the goals in our order,” said Snyder. “They are a constant point of emphasis in the program.”
That order starts with COMMITMENT because “… it unifies the whole structure.” But he adds, “By and large, the set of values are all equal.”
Of introducing the goals to a particular team in a particular year, Snyder says, “For new players it’s a process of, ‘OK, here they are.’ For a second year player, it’s, ‘You’ve heard this before, but here they are again.’ For third- and fourth-year players, they should be memorized.”
Former linebacker Brooks Barta once said of the emphasis Snyder puts on the goals, “He can talk for hours on each one of them. I think the first night of camp we got through maybe four or five of them and it didn’t change through the years. He could talk forever on them.”
Snyder admitted that there is an occasional here we go again roll of the eyes, but he adds, “That’s from a player who hasn’t realized the importance. When you have a belief you don’t see the roll of the eyes.”
In explaining the reason for their importance, the Wildcat coach says, “I am charged by families to be a father, a mentor and a teacher to young people. These are lessons of life that will help you on the field, but also off the field in life.”
THE WILDCAT 16 GOALS FOR SUCCESS
Commitment … to common goals and to being successful
Unselfishness … there is no ‘I’ in TEAM
Unity … come together as never before
Improve … every day as a player, person and student
Be Tough … mentally and physically
Self-Discipline ... do it right, don’t accept less
Eliminate Mistakes … don’t beat yourself
Never Give Up … never … never … never
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
If each player achieves each of these goals, we, as a team, will always be successful.
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at email@example.com.