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The pen really is mightier – especially in a handwritten note

West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett received this note from K-State coach Bill Snyder after Trickett sustained a concussion.
West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett received this note from K-State coach Bill Snyder after Trickett sustained a concussion. Courtesy photo

When Bill Snyder has something important to say, he often grabs a pen and paper.

“It’s so easy to e-mail things. I prefer not to do that,” said Snyder, K-State’s head football coach.

“That’s just part of being a hundred years old,” he joked. “You refer back to some old-school things. So I write notes.”

A few times in recent years, players from opposing teams have snapped photos of handwritten notes they received from Snyder and have posted the photos and their thanks on Twitter. The photos often go viral.

“This was honestly one of my goals for this season and game,” West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett tweeted after receiving a note from Snyder last month and posting a photo of it.

The coach wrote the note after learning Trickett had sustained a concussion during the Mountaineers’ game against K-State. Trickett was impressed.

“Coach Snyder is the epitome of college football coaches!” he tweeted.

Amazing, the power and impact of a handwritten note.

Eric Wilson of Wichita State University’s Elliott School of Communication says he isn’t surprised when Snyder’s letters make the news or the rounds on social media. In an age of texts, tweets, instant messages and other lightning-fast forms of digital communication, he said, a handwritten note sets you apart.

“Just the fact that a guy at that level, who has who-knows-how-much on his plate, can take the time to write – that’s something special,” said Wilson, an instructor and outreach director. “It’s something you don’t see very much anymore.”

Wilson and other WSU faculty members urge students to write thank-you notes – the old-fashioned kind, on stationery, with an envelope and postage stamp – after job interviews or at other times to express gratitude.

“It takes a little more time and effort to put the handwritten note out there, but we’ve had employers tell us … it’s a differentiating factor,” Wilson said.

“It’s one of those things that seems like common sense to me. It’s one of those things your grandparents and your parents always told you to do.”

Last year, Snyder sent Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro a note following Amaro’s injury in a game against Baylor.

“You’ve had a great year Jace,” the note starts. “Admire how hard you play & the innate toughness you display to help your team. Hope you weren’t hurt badly. … Wishing you & your teammates continued success, good fortune and health. Warm regards, Coach Snyder.”

Asked about his correspondence habit during a recent news conference, Snyder said, jokingly: “We utilize a lot of note cards at Kansas State. That’s where the biggest part of our budget goes.”

Reporters laughed. But Snyder said he feels a responsibility to express praise, admiration, respect or thanks to players, fellow coaches and others who contribute to K-State’s program.

“I write a great deal of notes … to players that I believe performed well, to young people that I believe have the right approach, the right attitude about their lives, about college football,” he said.

Bobby Gandu, director of admissions at WSU, said he and his staff send lots of handwritten notes to prospective students and others as part of the university’s recruitment effort.

“My hand usually hurts, especially this time of year,” he said.

While mass e-mails or form letters may be efficient, “Lost in that sea of communication is the personal touch in a personal, handwritten note,” Gandu said. “So it’s a great way to stand out in that sea of communication.

“I’m just like everyone else: I love when I receive a handwritten note in the mail amongst the bills, amongst the sales outreach, amongst the other junk I get,” he added.

“It’s always so nice and refreshing to have a handwritten note.”

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @suzannetobias.

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