May 2, 2011
By John Hirn
Author of Aggies to Rams
It is no small task to have a high school football stadium named in your honor, unless you have gobs of money or a massive corporation. According to the Colorado High School Activities Association, only one active high school football stadium in the state has been named after a former CSU football player.
French Field in Fort Collins was named after J. Ray French, a player on the 1927 Colorado Aggies football championship team and long-time Fort Collins High School coach. However, there is one high school football field in California named after CSU football and baseball player Wayne Schneider marking his distinguished record as a coach in the city of Tracy.
Wayne Schneider came to Colorado State University in the fall of 1957 from Oakland Junior College as a transfer student mainly because CSU would allow him to play both baseball and football. In baseball he was a pitcher and outfielder for Coach Irv Ferguson’s teams in 1958 and 1959. He still has great memories of playing on those teams and traveling to places like Arizona during spring break and New Mexico at the opening of league play.
Schneider’s sport that he is best known for is as a halfback on Coach Tuffy Mullison’s teams of 1957, ‘58 and ‘59.
When he graduated from CSU, Schneider left with the school record for career rushing yards at 1,381. That record held until 1966 when Oscar Reed passed him, but one of Schneider’s records is still at the top in CSU football history today.
In 1958, Schneider rushed for an 86-yard touchdown against BYU and again that season rushed for an 83-yard touchdown against CU to set a school record for longest carries. Those records were not broken until 2000 when Cecil Sapp ran 89 yards for a touchdown against Air Force. Schneider’s touchdown runs remain the second and third longest carries in school history.
Schneider had his greatest game against CU in 1958 when he scored 14 of the Rams’ 15 points to beat the Buffs in Boulder for what was supposed to be the last game ever played between the two schools. Schneider said of that game, “I remember they (CU) were talking about dropping CSU because we were not competitive. That really motivated us. I had the game of my career scoring two touchdowns and the two point play in the 15-14 win at Boulder. The next day I got the Rocky Mountain News and on the front page was me kissing the ball.”
Schneider, who wore #42 during his CSU playing career, was the dominant running back for the Rams in the late 1950s and remembers his playing days fondly. The first time he ever saw snow was in Salt Lake City in a game against Utah during a blizzard. He felt his coaches were great and enjoyed playing both sides of the ball on offense and defense.
Schneider said, “Some of my highlights was going back to West Point and playing Army and then spending a few days in New York City. The three years I played we had two winning seasons. I really liked Fort Collins it was a great place to go to school. I was able to be drafted by the Buffalo Bills and play in the Copper Bowl at Arizona State University pitting the Southwest All-Stars vs National All-Stars.”
Upon his graduation in 1960, Schneider briefly spent time with the Bills and Oakland Raiders before injuring his back and leaving football completely. He received his California teaching credentials in 1961 and also spent some time playing semi-pro baseball before he received his first head football coaching job in 1965 at Tracy High School in Tracy, California. It was at Tracy High School that Schneider took the Belly Offense that Tuffy Mullison taught him and became one of California’s greatest high school football coaches.
Schneider coached at Tracy from 1965 to 1972 and then returned to Tracy High in 1977 where he retired in 1994.
During his 26 years as head football coach in Tracy, Wayne Schneider amassed a 224-59-2 record as head coach, won 16 league championships, two sectional titles and was named the California Coach of the year one time. He has been inducted into numerous halls of fame including the San Joaquin Section Hall of Fame (2010), Tracy Sports Hall of Fame, California Coaches Hall of Fame (2005) and the National High School Athletic Hall of Fame (2007).
Among all of these accomplishments came the re-naming of Tracy High School’s football stadium in honor of Wayne Schneider. In 2009, the stadium was renamed Wayne Schneider Stadium and plans are in place for a complete remodel of the stadium during the summer of 2011. It is believed that Wayne Schneider Stadium is only the second current high school football stadium in the country named after a former CSU football player.
Wayne lives in Tracy and is active in the Tracy Breakfast Lions Club and is also the coordinator for the Central California Lions All-Star Football game. Schneider’s busy fall schedule has prevented him from making it back to Fort Collins during football season, but he hopes to attend a future Legends Weekend and see the Rams at Hughes Stadium for the first time.
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