Rock Chalk Weekly: Following the Legacy
Written by Kyle Taylor, Kansas Athletic Communications Student Assistant
The bond between a father and his son is unlike any other. A father is often a son’s first hero. From playing catch in the backyard to sitting on the couch watching the big game on television, a father plays a large role in shaping the man his son will be. This all holds true for Kansas women’s basketball coach Brandon Schneider and his father, Bob Schneider.
With 17 years under his belt as a head coach, Coach Brandon looks to continue his success in his first year leading the Jayhawks. He has shown achievement in the past years with a NCAA Division II Championship at Emporia State and back-to-back conference championships at Stephen F. Austin.
Bob Schneider, Brandon’s father, coached women’s basketball for 43 years, with the last 25 at West Texas A&M in Canyon, Texas. With over 1,000 wins in his career, it is no surprise that his son has continued to have the same sort of success.
While it is obvious that Coach Brandon is incredibly passionate about basketball, the love for the game didn’t develop overnight. Born into an environment that lived for the game of basketball, it became inevitable that the legacy would be continued.
“I was in a gym going to the state tournament as soon as I was born,” Coach Brandon said. “My dad played for the state championship for the first seven years of my life. Really, it’s just what we did.”
But this isn’t the case of a son simply being forced into sports. Instead, Coach Brandon was fortunate enough to choose his own destiny, which makes following his father’s legacy all the more special. He was able to grow up around a game that instilled important values and quickly developed into a burning passion.
“I never felt forced,” Coach Brandon said. “I caught some grief because I decided not to play football, which is a big deal in Texas. But no, I never felt forced.”
Ambition radiates from Coach Brandon anytime he speaks of his role as a coach. This drive has resulted in becoming an ongoing student of the game, constantly improving himself and his team. He tells of binders filled with notes and plays, including some from Bill Self’s days at Tulsa, that he has taken down over the years while attending camps, practices, games and pretty much anything that gave him the opportunity to learn more. Coach Schneider recalls how active Brandon always was in learning and studying the game.
“We would run camps and after it was all over all the coaches would gather around a TV and a whiteboard and would all go over things, and he was always very active in that,” Coach Schneider said.
While these tools have helped develop Coach Brandon into the coach he is today, they are foundations that can be traced back to his father. Watching games and attending practices from the time he was born, Coach Brandon was able to witness the ins and outs of the job and figure out what will make a coach successful and what will not.
“Without question, my dad was an incredible teacher of the fundamentals and the importance of being fundamentally sound as a team and as a player,” Coach Brandon said. “Repetition after repetition. Another thing I took from him is his practice persona and his game-coaching persona, which were very different. In practice he was very intense, animated and very demanding. But I was always amazed that in the games he was always very poised and always kept his composure. I’ve asked him about that and he just felt like in game coaching, he always had to be thinking two or three possessions ahead and if he lost his poise it really affected his ability to concentrate on making necessary adjustments.”
Ultimately, this foundation is hoped to lead to the success. But is it really that easy? It takes a sort of bravery to follow in the footsteps of someone who has proven themselves, especially when that person is your father. While there are more important things than winning, witnessing it so often growing up adds even more pressure as a coach.
“When I was young, I just expected that Dad always won, because he did such a high percentage of the time,” Coach Brandon said. “I think as I got older I started to recognize all the things that bring about winning; but most importantly, the factors that bring about losing. He didn’t deal with losing very well. A lot of people love to win and then you have people who just hate to lose and probably in my family we are more on the side of we just hate to lose. Winning is just a relief sometimes.”
Coach Brandon has, without a doubt, taken everything he has learned and shown he has what it takes to be successful. He and his father were the first father/son combination to take their respective teams to the Elite Eight in the Division II NCAA Tournament.
“I think that’s just a cool coincidence,” Coach Brandon said. “It just speaks to the programs. There are a lot of little interesting coincidences but in general he built a powerhouse at West Texas and I like to think we did the same at Emporia State.”
Although Coach Schneider was incredibly successful in his career, Coach Brandon is on his way to becoming a legend in his own right. He does not live in his father’s shadow, but instead continues the success.
“He’s his own guy,” Coach Schneider said. “He is very intelligent and knows what he needs. I have faith in him because I know he will put in the work to do whatever it takes.”
While the technical skills and coaching styles can be taught, compassion is an attribute that one must simply possess. It becomes obvious when talking to Coach Brandon how much he cares about the people in his life. He only talks of his father with the utmost respect.
“In our family there is only one Coach Schneider,” Coach Brandon said. “Just growing up anyone who would come around my home, even my friends, it was ‘Coach Schneider’, that’s how they referred to him. My entire life when I heard ‘Coach Schneider’ I looked around for my dad and would still do that today.”
Along with this being a sort of act of courtesy for his father, it also cultivates trust with his players.
“It’s awesome that he wants to be on that level with us,” sophomore guard Lauren Aldridge said about calling her new coach by her first name. “I think it shows that he’s not a superior. He tells us all the time, ‘I’m a teammate just like you guys are’ and you don’t get that from a lot of coaches. It is a little bit more informal, but it goes back into fostering trust.”
This caring attitude also shows in the way he coaches his players. While he is in a position of authority, his team is treated as a family, a theme that seems to be reoccurring.
“Most of us don’t have families up here, so it’s nice to have that family atmosphere,” Aldridge said. “It’s like, ‘Oh yeah, Coach Brandon, he’s that father figure for me while Dad isn’t up here.'”
Growing up in an environment in which family was so important, Coach Brandon has been able to translate that into the way he coaches, much like his father. This special type of bond makes it a bit more difficult when put in a situation where it is a competition.
“When he was at Emporia he beat me more than I beat him,” Coach Schneider said. “One time he beat the heck out of me and after the game I just shook his hand and said, ‘Good job.’ To this day, I wish I would have picked him up and hugged him, so he would have known just how proud of him I was.”
Coach Schneider is now retired and Coach Brandon continues to prove himself while carrying on his father’s legacy. When being introduced as the new Kansas women’s basketball head coach, Coach Brandon told a story of when he first stepped foot in Allen Fieldhouse 20 years ago and the surreal feelings that he desperately wanted to be a part of it one day. Twenty years later it became reality.
“It might be cliché, but really it’s a dream come true,” Coach Brandon said. “There aren’t a lot of people that you could ask, ‘If you could coach anywhere where would it be?’, and they would be at that place. But that’s where I am now.”
Luckily, Coach Brandon does not have to share his excitement alone. In his first appearance at Late Night at the Phog, he was fortunate enough to have his father and mother, Barbara, in attendance, as well as his wife and children, who were featured in a video with Big and Baby Jay. His family will never be too far behind and Coach Brandon is excited to have his parents in attendance as often as possible in Allen Fieldhouse when his Jayhawks take to James Naismith Court.
“Everyone just wants to make their parents proud,” Coach Brandon said. “It’s cool for him because of how much he loves the game and now he gets to watch me coach in Allen Fieldhouse. Last time they were here he wanted to go to whatever restaurant had the most James Naismith stuff because that’s just how much he loves it.”
Coach Brandon’s children now have the opportunity to grow up in a similar environment as he takes charge of the Jayhawks. He and his wife, Ali, raise their two boys, Cash and Cole, who are already getting into the game at the ages of 5 and 4 years old and may even carry on the legacy.
“They’re at the point where they can watch the tournament and they know all the teams by their logos,” Coach Brandon said. “They even knew all the players on the Utah roster last year and there’s probably not a lot of people who knew that.”
The bond between father and son is in fact unlike any other. It allows one to realize what is really important in life. It allows one to take that special relationship and translate it into whatever else they are doing. Family is everything, a sentiment both the Schneiders share.
“You have to remember these players come and just like that they are gone,” Coach Schneider said. “You have to cherish the moments. You have to work really hard at your job. But the most important thing is family. There has to be balance between your job and your family. You have to remember you have a wife and kids at home who need to be loved and cared for. Leave your work at the office.”
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