/notables/2013/02/appreciating-frosty

Appreciating Frosty Westering

More news about: Pacific Lutheran
Frosty Westering became known to Division III audiences during Pacific Lutheran's run to the championship in Stagg Bowl XXVII.
1999 D3football.com photo by Pat Coleman

By Keith McMillan
D3sports.com

Frosty Westering died April 12 at the age of 85. For more, please read PLU's tribute page. Below is Keith McMillan's tribute to Frosty, published in February 2013.

Having been present for every Stagg Bowl since 1997, I've seen my fair share of memorable games, plays and players. But if you forced me to pick a favorite run to the walnut and bronze, to this day I'd go with the 1999 Pacific Lutheran team.

Maybe it was because they came out of nowhere, one year removed from the NAIA, a No. 7 seed that won four road playoff games before triumphing in Salem. Maybe it's because it was a team full of goody two-shoes -- guys who genuinely bought into the idea that you could throw a crushing block on an opponent, then help him up and pat him on the butt.

But mostly it was because of Frosty Westering.

Westering, 85, is in the hospital this week and not doing well, according to messages in social media from members of his family and from his Facebook fan page.

If I ever quit writing to coach, something I contemplate regularly, I would immediately steal most of Frosty's ideas and implement them as my core philosophy. (In fact, my whole pitch in an interview would be that I've been fortunate enough to observe Larry Kehres, John Gagliardi, Frosty Westering and others up close.)

Frosty (never Coach Westering, by the way) is famous for "Every Man a Lute" and "Make the Big Time Where You Are" -- also the title of his book -- but I'm just as intrigued by his idea that you compete against your best self. The score of the game is secondary for the most part, as it is going on. The goal is to get the best out of yourself, do your job to the best of your ability and win your individual battles. Do that and final scores take care of themselves.

That might sound too good to be true, but it worked for Frosty. His teams won three-quarters of their games, and at 305-96-7, Westering is one of just 12 football coaches (when you include Joe Paterno’s vacated wins) in the 300-win club. His peers, by that measure, include Glenn “Pop” Warner, Amos Alonzo Stagg, Paul “Bear” Bryant, Kehres and Gagliardi.

There’s no quintessential Frosty Westering story that sums him or his teams up. Google his name, and you are rewarded with an archive of articles, some of which detail practices such as postgame “Afterglow,” breaks in practice to watch sunsets or to enjoy popsicles, the preseason getaway to the Oregon Coast, and his habit of cheering things with an “Attaway!” He’s mentioned in the lede when you read about his granddaughter, Taber Spani, who plays basketball for Tennessee, and when you read about Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, who married into the family.

Frosty is more than just a grandparent and coach – he had served in the U.S. Marines, earned his doctorate in education and become a motivational speaker. He was named Washingtonian of the Year in 2010 and earned the AFCA’s Stagg Award last month. Westering retired from coaching in 2003, but much like Gagliardi, who retired this past season, his influence lives on. Both Greenville (“Every Man a Panther”) and PLU are still run on Frosty’s ideals, while PLU grad and Northwestern (Minn.) coach Kirk Talley and many a coach has borrowed from him.

Division III barely had Frosty – PLU switched over in 1998 and he retired six seasons later. But the 1999 championship run stands out. The Lutes faced Rowan, who had vanquished Mount Union in the semifinals in overtime, and were thought to be a mismatch for the Profs, who along with the Purple Raiders were D-III’s mighty teams of the late 1990s. It was a mismatch alright. PLU won 42-13, with a flurry of misdirection and a bevy of Attways! and pats on the butt.

Getting to know Frosty and the Lutes during that run was fun for all of D-III, though. A team that didn’t curse and a coach that didn’t have a negative thing to yell sounded entirely too good to be true. But when the notebooks were put away and the cameras were off, Frosty’s act never stopped. He was every bit the man he was made out to be.

The season after the Stagg Bowl title, Austin Murphy wrote about Frosty in the Sports Illustrated season preview. When I called Frosty to write a piece about PLU, and he heard I hadn’t read the story, an issue of SI, with Michael Vick on the cover in a Virginia Tech jersey, arrived at my door a few days later. Frosty’s signature was scrawled across the magazine.

We can appreciate Frosty for his 305 wins, but the number 900 says a lot more about him than the victories do. When he retired in 2003, that’s how many of his former players showed up to PLU’s gym to wish him the best.

That’s an Afterglow that deserves an Attaway!

Sep. 23: All times Eastern
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at Framingham State 50, Massachusetts Maritime 7
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Muhlenberg 56, at Juniata 40
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Salisbury 27, at TCNJ 7
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MIT 38, at Catholic 21
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Merchant Marine 56, at Maine Maritime 31
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at Morrisville State 44, Nichols 22
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Christopher Newport 16, at Montclair State 8
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Middlebury 41, at Bowdoin 14
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Williams 24, at Colby 7
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Amherst 36, at Hamilton 6
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Ursinus 35, at Moravian 17
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Trinity (Conn.) 51, at Bates 0
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Geneva 33, at Thiel 24
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Kean 28, at Southern Virginia 14
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Frostburg State 24, at Rowan 10
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Union 17, at Curry 14
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Lycoming 44, at King's 41
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Huntingdon 31, at Ferrum 28
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Franklin and Marshall 27, at Susquehanna 24
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Franklin 59, at Bluffton 30
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Mount St. Joseph 31, at Manchester 14
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Worcester State 34, at Westfield State 10
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at Trinity (Texas) 41, Chapman 35
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at Gustavus Adolphus 51, Hamline 7
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Augsburg 48, at Carleton 28
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at Luther 21, Dubuque 17
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Simpson 38, at Coe 33
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Wheaton (Ill.) 40, at Elmhurst 15
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at MacMurray 32, Iowa Wesleyan 14
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Hardin-Simmons 63, at Howard Payne 3
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Southwestern 37, at Louisiana College 34
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Monmouth 26, at Macalester 0
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at St. Thomas 20, St. John's 17
@ Target Field, Minneapolis
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at Springfield 42, WPI 10
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at Brockport 28, Utica 14
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at Hartwick 24, St. John Fisher 21
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at UW-La Crosse 41, Carroll 6
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at George Fox 44, UW-Eau Claire 0
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at Western Connecticut 37, Salve Regina 23
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at UW-Stevens Point 41, Adrian 28
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at Wesleyan 24, Tufts 17
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at Averett 35, Methodist 6
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at Berry 28, Centre 14
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at Case Western Reserve 56, Waynesburg 21
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at Grove City 24, St. Vincent 14
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at Illinois Wesleyan 18, North Park 0
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 50, Texas Lutheran 7
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at UW-Platteville 56, Lakeland 22
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Carthage 55, at Augustana 14
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Chicago 28, at Illinois College 7
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at Sul Ross State 35, McMurry 7
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Lake Forest 42, at Lawrence 26
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Arizona Christian 56, at Whittier 38
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Sep. 28: All times Eastern
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Shenandoah at Randolph-Macon
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7:00 PM
Delaware Valley at FDU-Florham
Sep. 23: All times Eastern
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at Delaware Valley 27, Stevenson 7
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Wesley 66, at William Paterson 0
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at Alfred 45, Rochester 7
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Johns Hopkins 41, at Dickinson 10
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Frostburg State 24, at Rowan 10
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at Heidelberg 47, John Carroll 21
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at Mount Union 55, Baldwin Wallace 7
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Wittenberg 48, at Kenyon 11
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at Wabash 25, Hiram 21
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Hardin-Simmons 63, at Howard Payne 3
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North Central (Ill.) 51, at Millikin 21
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Wheaton (Ill.) 40, at Elmhurst 15
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at St. Thomas 20, St. John's 17
@ Target Field, Minneapolis
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at Brockport 28, Utica 14
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at Case Western Reserve 56, Waynesburg 21
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at Illinois Wesleyan 18, North Park 0
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at UW-Platteville 56, Lakeland 22
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 50, Texas Lutheran 7
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Sep. 29: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Delaware Valley at FDU-Florham