It all stems from his stellar record as a Tracy High football coach (224-59-2 over 26 seasons) with two section championships, followed by the naming of the THS football stadium for him.
But back in Fort Collins, Colo., Wayne is also remembered with fond and high regard. His record as a running back for the Colorado State Rams during the 1957, ’58 and ’59 seasons is the reason why.
The Oakland native and Oakland High graduate wound up in Fort Collins in 1957 after a year at Oakland Junior College. He chose Colorado State because it offered him a chance to play both football and baseball.
A recent article in the Ram Alumni Athletics Association website and publication by John Hirn is titled “Where are they now: Wayne Schneider.” Hirn outlines Wayne’s record at Colorado State. It’s one many Tracyites probably have only scant knowledge of.
During those three seasons, Wayne tore ’em up back in Fort Collins. He finished his three-year career with a school rushing record of 1,381 yards — a record that wasn’t topped until 1966.
In 1958, Wayne ran an 86-yard TD against BYU and later an 83-yard TD against the University of Colorado. Those touchdown dashes still stand as the second- and third-longest runs in the Ram record book.
In his article, Hirn described Wayne’s greatest game against Colorado in 1958:
“He scored 14 of the Rams’ 15 points to beat the Buffs in Boulder for what was supposed to be the last game ever 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.’”
When I talked to Wayne after receiving a copy of Hirn’s article, he reminded me that back in the late 1950s, free substitution was still banned in college football, so he had to play both offensive running back and defensive back.
He still keeps close tabs on Colorado State football and has been pleased with the team’s emergence as a genuine Division I competitor in recent years.
“As Hirn’s story indicated, Colorado coaches wanted to dump Colorado State from their schedule, and they did for some time,” he said. “But in recent years, the rivalry has been resumed, and it has become an annual ‘rivalry’ game at the beginning of each season.”
Wayne said he hasn’t been back to Fort Collins in a number of years, especially as reunions are often during football season, when he has been busy as coach and consultant all those years.
“If they have a reunion this September or early October, I think I’ll be able to make there,” he said. “They call it ‘Legends Weekend.’”
Our local legend certainly qualifies as a participant.
A few other comments Wayne made during our conversation:
• He’s pleased that Wayne Schneider Stadium at Tracy High will be reconstructed beginning a year from this June. The bleachers are old and dangerous, and the six-lane track inadequate. He’s OK with either grass or artificial turf.
• When high school sports leagues are realigned again, an ideal league for our town would be a Tracy-Manteca League. Manteca Unified School District has five high schools (three in Manteca, along with Lathrop and Weston Ranch), and Tracy has three high schools, adding up to an eight-team league. Transportation distances would be shortened, and out-of-town attendance, which has dwindled considerably in recent years, would be given a boost.
• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.