“It’s Not About The Awards”
By John Yevuta
Wetzel/Tyler County Papers
In the pantheon of Ohio Valley coaches, Craig Schneid ranks among the all-time greats. His resume includes 10 West Virginia High School Track Championships, 4 OVAC Track Championships and 72 individual or relay state champs. Even more impressive is the way he’s mentored thousands of students and athletes with his unique brand of humor, respect and thoughtfulness during 34 years of teaching and 47 coaching seasons.
Among the subjects you taught was West Virginia Studies, which prepares students to take the Golden Horseshoe Test. How many students did you help become Knights of the Golden Horseshoe?
I am not sure of the exact number, but it is over 30. I know in 2009 I was awarded a Golden Horseshoe for having so many winners. Some of my colleagues called me Sir Schneid when I was around. Lord only knows what they called me when I wasn’t around.
What are some of the questions on the test to which most of us would not know the answer?
The test has changed dramatically the last 10 years. It is no longer a 100 question test that only 10% of the students can take, now it is a 50 question test that all students can take on the computer. The teacher is not allowed to be in the room because of accusations of cheating throughout the state. There are less Jeopardy type questions on the test and more questions that require a higher level of thinking. One question on the new format would be “Why did Barrack Obama do better in the urban areas of WV than in the rural areas?”
In addition to the state championship teams you coached, you had multiple OVAC titles. Were there some years when winning the OVAC was harder than winning the state title?
Definitely. When you have to compete against Bellaire, Martins Ferry, Meadowbrook, etc. it really challenges your team.
If by some miracle you could be a professional in track, football, basketball or golf, which one would you choose? Give us some reasons.
Football. I just love the game. The smart answer would be golf.
Which sport would you rather coach?
No doubt, football.
You and Brian Croasmun announce Magnolia Football games and are always entertaining. Why do you think the combination of you and Brian works so well?
Brian is very professional at what he does. He is well prepared and and keeps stats on his computer during the game. I like to talk about the game and give insight. It is just a mixture that works. Plus, after so many years the timing is good and we do not talk over each other like some other stations do. I do occasionally slip up when I get excited on a good play.
You were part of some great Dave Cisar football coaching staffs. You guys were notorious pranksters. Please share a few stories.
Bob Ripley had an endless supply of those loads you put in cigarettes that would make them explode. He would get Coach Cisar at least once a week. He was good at inserting them. He would take some of the tobacco out, put the load in, then pack the tobacco back in. He put two of them in a cigarette at the old Wheeling Island stadium and I thought Coach Cisar was going to jump over the top wall. Another funny time was when the shop teacher, Woody , tied a dead squirrel on Coach Cisar’s steering column in his truck. Woody placed it with the mouth wide open like it was jumping at coach. Those are some of the stories I “can” tell.
Cisar was an innovator on offense who was, in many ways, ahead of his time. In your opinion, what was his secret?
Repetition. I tell people all the time Magnolia didn’t have a playbook and they don’t believe me. Coach Cisar just didn’t call plays, he set them up with previous plays. He was playing chess while others were playing checkers.
You are legendary for being able to count and predict performances. Were there any WV State Track Meet scores you predicted to within a point or two?
Not sure of the exact number of times but I was rarely off by more than five points. RunWV made it a lot easier late in my career.
What was the closest State Track Meet and/or OVAC meet and what was the event that clinched it for your team?
The first one in 1991 we won by one point. We were down by 7 points with only the 4 x 400 to go. Mike McKowen who placed in the 400 tweaked his hamstring in the 4 x 200. I had taken Jason Goddard to the state meet as an alternate. I think Jason had to borrow shorts from someone because he left his in the car. We placed second and got eight points to make it 55-54.
A close second would be when we scored 38 points in the last three events at the state meet in 1992. Russell Powell and Jon Pfhol went 2-3 in the 800, Kenny Fisher and Lee Maine went 2-3 in the 200, and then we closed it out with a win in the 4 x 400.
One of your strengths is knowing what you don’t know. Understanding that our facilities weren’t set up for pole vaulting and it wasn’t one of your interests, you didn’t emphasize it. Still, didn’t a Magnolia pole vaulter once provide a few needed points to help you win a state title?
Steve Ross can verify this story. I had to miss practice one day in 1991 to give a presentation for my masters program. I come back the next day and Steve said he found a pole vaulter in Jason Hornbeck. Jason was clearing a few heights but nothing to get excited about. Steve worked with him and he barely got fourth at the regionals. Then I asked Steve how are we going to get the pole to Charleston? Well we got it there and Jason vaulted a foot higher than he ever did before and get 4th place. He scored 4 points and we won by 1 point.
You had a knack for putting athletes in events where they could succeed. Was there a distance that you used as an indicator of their future performance?
No doubt the 400 and 800. If you have good 400 runners you also have strong 200 runners,strong 4x 200, and obviously a strong 4 x 400. If you have good 800 runners they make for 3200 and 1600 runners who will have a nice kick. The stockpile of 400 and 800 runners from the 1992,1993,1995, and 1996 teams were amazing. We won the 4 x 400 in 1992 with all juniors, the next year we ran a 3:31 and three of those runners didn’t run. Kenny Fisher (50.1seconds) won the 400 but was out of events, Jagady Blue who could run 51 seconds on the relay was nursing a leg problem so I didn’t run him and replaced him with Kris Rowley. Russell Powell just ran the 800 so I went with fresher legs. Keith Streets won the 400 (50.7seconds) in 1996 and I didn’t have him on the 4 x 400 that won states. When I first coached at Magnolia I had to beg kids to run the 4 x 400; in those years they were begging me to run it. The run of 800 runners from 1995-1998 was also impressive. I counted 12 different kids who ran a 2: 03 or better. Jeff Thomas ran a 2:03 on the 1995 team that ran the second fastest time in state meet history (and they were all back for 1996) and he got beat out in 1996 for the the 4 x 800.
You recently had a knee replacement but were spotted doing a track workout. Word is you are eyeing a National Record in your age group. What is the event?
I timed myself twice in practice more than a half second faster than the All American standard for 55 meters. I was ready to run in the fall because I moved to another age group but all meets were canceled. I am going to try all events from the 800 down plus the intermediate hurdles. I also have been throwing the javelin.
What do you think makes a good coach?
Organiztion and motivation. Have a goal and a plan to achieve it.
Who were some of the coaches who helped you along the way?
My high school coach, Ken Steiner, was a huge help. I also learned some things from Greg Swords.
What were some of the things you learned from them?
I only had Coach Steiner for my senior year. I think he taught me to have the athletes respect but not fear you as a coach. Every coach has their own style and you have to coach the way you are most comfortable with.
If brevity is the soul of wit, then your practices were witty, usually lasting less than an hour. What was your reasoning?
I would tell the athletes if you don’t waste my time then I won’t waste yours. We did what we needed to do then went home. I told one of the later teams, ” If you want a friend, go rescue a dog from the pound. If you want guidance, go to church on Sunday. “If you want a chance to become a state champ, then you came to the right guy.”
We don’t have enough room to mention all the great athletes that you coached. Most of us aren’t great athletes. Who was an overachiever that helped put their team over the top?
Jonathan Forbes. He was a below average runner his first two years then his body started to mature. He was a good relay runner his junior year. His senior year he pushed himself to run a 1:59.29 at state to finish third. More importantly, he pushed Josh Watson in practice.
Few people have had a monkey as a pet. Do you recommend getting one?
NO! Those things are scary. My dad brought one home from work for about three weeks and I had nightmares about that thing chasing me in the basement.
Besides a Notre Dame National Football Championship, what is on your bucket list?
I would like to go to the final day of Olympics track session.
Any suggestions going forward?
Yes. I feel it is a shame when you walk past the trophy case at Magnolia and there is no evidence that Greg Swords, Wayne Fetty, or myself coached at Magnolia. The three of us put close to 30 state championship or runner-up trophies in those cases. I feel there should be a picture of all three of us with a list of our accomplishments listed below each picture. The sad thing is Wayne is no longer with us. That is my opinion. But then again it was never about personal achievement. Quoting Southside Johnny Lyons on his induction to the New Jersey Hall of Fame, “It is not about the awards you receive for doing what you did, it is about the rewards you get for doing what you love and being good at it”.