The saying goes is that behind every great man is a great woman. If that’s the case for Bill Snyder, that great woman would be his wife Sharon. But the Kansas State coach is twice blessed when this adage is applied.
Joan Friederich is the power and authority beside the throne in the office next to Snyder’s in the Vanier Football Complex. Friederich’s title is Administrative Assistant to the Head Football Coach. The job description, though, is simple: Everything.
“I’d fall through the cracks,” Snyder said if it wasn’t for Friederich. “She was here before I got here the first time and she has so much experience in knowing what needs to be done.”
Friederich started working in the Kansas State football offices in 1973 as an administrative assistant for the team’s assistant coaches. In 1980, then coach Jim Dickey promoted Friederich to serve in the same role but as his “ad min.” She has been in that role for Dickey, Stan Parrish, Ron Prince and Snyder – twice.
“There are a lot of things, year in and year out, that I know have to get done,” Friederich said. “Having been here so long, I’ve got an idea for things that need to get done before the season starts or before recruiting starts.”
For football coaches, their time is one of their most valuable commodities. For the Kansas State coaches she has worked for, Friederich does what she can to make every minute valuable.
“I know the system,” Friderich said. “Each coach changes things a little bit but I do things the way they like them done.”
As Snyder’s administrative assistant, Friederich serves as a gate keeper. Particularly during football season, she tries to make sure that the interview/autograph/face-to-face requests are filtered.
“Sometimes I call myself a traffic director,” she said. “During football season, there’s more of a week-to-week routine during the season but we’re busy year-round.”
Friederich is in her 19th football season working for Snyder. Often she knows an answer to a question the coach might ask before he asks it. The coach appreciates her ability to keep him on schedule and how she deals with people.
“The players come in the office and she’s like a mother to them,” he said. “They come in and give her a hug. She gets along with people so very well. She stays ahead of what needs to take place. She’s a special lady.”
When told of Snyder’s comment that “he’d fall through the cracks” without her, Friederich was pleased.
“It means a lot that he feels that way,” she said. “I try to help him as much as possible.”
Snyder is known for his work ethic and his long hours in his office.
“I truly enjoy working for him, he’s a great man,” said Friederich, who has lived in Manhattan since high school. “What he has done for the community, Kansas State football and the state of Kansas is just unbelievable. There’s no one who appreciates that more than I do.
“In a small way, I feel like I’ve been a part of it. Coach Snyder has always made this feel like a family and that means a lot to me.”