Coach Profile: Pembroke Hill's Sam Knopik 7/11
By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Sam Knopik knew he wanted to be a football coach at an early age. The Pembroke Hill head coach played the game all of his life and for the last decade has led the Raiders program.
That early desire and love of the game came at a young age as he was growing up in Nebraska.
“I knew I wanted to be a high school football coach at an early age,” Knopik saidl “I grew up in in Nebraska and it seemed like everything of worth was wrapped in football. Across urban and rural communities and all age groups there was a common language and an automatic conferred respect for the game and those who played and coached the game.”
While he knew what he wanted to do it took a high school teacher’s influence to guide Knopik in the right direction.
“I had a math teacher in the ninth grade who recognized in me a struggling, lost kid,” Knopik said. “He took the time to get to know me and while I never was any good at math he encouraged me to get involved in school activities. I still have the letter from him that I received at Freshman Retreat. It sits on my desk where I can see it often and am reminded of the power one teacher/coach can have on a young person. It's funny but I always request to teach the ninth grade classes and my peers think I'm crazy. No doubt about that but I've always felt that somebody who WANTS to be there looking after those scared, insecure young ones should be and every school needs someone to do that.”
After college Knopik began his coaching career at Moberly High School as an assistant. He was then promoted to head coach in 1999 and served in that position for two years. From there he moved to Truman as an assistant for the next two years before becoming the head coach at Pembroke Hill in 2003. During his time as a head coach he has amassed a 73-62 including six trips to the postseason in 13 years.
Knopik is committed to his sport not just at his own school but in the football community. He is a past president of the Missouri Football Coaches Association and is on the board of the Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association.
Knopik sees many positives with the sport he has made his career and sees ways the sport can improve on and off the field.
“I love everything about our game,” Knopik said. “I love the visceral body-body, out leveraging an opponent, knocking him down/getting knocked down. I love the relationships. Just last week I went camping with my high school teammates- seven of us! After all these years, and once the stories starting flying around -oh boy.
“What I wish I could change: I wish there was one rule book, I wish the NFL wasn't so paint-by-numbers, I wish all young men would set aside their perceptions of our game, and give it a try- because it has so much to offer. I'm afraid our society has forgotten the belief that through hard games of our youth we develop the hard young men and adults our country is going to need in the future.”
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