April 12, 2013

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. 1: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Coast Guard at Anna Maria
7:00 PM
Defiance at Baldwin Wallace
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Johns Hopkins
7:30 PM
Trine at Manchester
8:00 PM
Millsaps at Belhaven
Sep. 2: All times Eastern
TBA
Muhlenberg at Wilkes
6:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Mount Ida
6:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Wesley
7:00 PM
N.C. Wesleyan at Stevenson
7:00 PM
Western New England at Springfield
7:00 PM
Fitchburg State at Becker
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Albright at Salisbury
7:00 PM
WPI at MIT
7:00 PM
Salve Regina at Worcester State
7:00 PM
Bridgewater State at Curry
7:00 PM
Morrisville State at St. Lawrence
10:00 PM
Adrian at Pacific
Sep. 3: All times Eastern
TBA
Endicott at Framingham State
TBA
Kean at Christopher Newport
TBA
King's at Moravian
Live Stats
TBA
Lebanon Valley at Franklin and Marshall
TBA
Marietta at Denison
TBA
McDaniel at Catholic
TBA
Wisconsin Lutheran at Trinity Int'l
TBA
Sewanee at Kenyon
TBA
UW-Platteville at George Fox
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Washington U. at Carnegie Mellon
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Chicago at Case Western Reserve
12:00 PM
Husson at Alfred
12:00 PM
SUNY-Maritime at Maine Maritime
Video
12:00 PM
Cortland at Heidelberg
12:00 PM
Otterbein at Buffalo State
12:00 PM
Ursinus at Bethany
1:00 PM
Plymouth State at Castleton
Live Stats
1:00 PM
RPI at Norwich
1:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Dickinson
1:00 PM
Oberlin at Kalamazoo
1:00 PM
Emory and Henry at Ferrum
1:00 PM
Wooster at Washington and Jefferson
1:00 PM
Alfred State at William Paterson
1:00 PM
St. Vincent at Alma
1:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at Finlandia
1:00 PM
Olivet at St. John Fisher
1:00 PM
Rowan at Widener
1:00 PM
Hobart at Brockport
1:00 PM
Union at Ithaca
1:00 PM
Susquehanna at Lycoming
1:00 PM
Utica at Misericordia
1:00 PM
The Apprentice School at Methodist
1:00 PM
TCNJ at UW-Whitewater
1:30 PM
Wilmington at Bluffton
1:30 PM
Monmouth at Hope
1:30 PM
Bridgewater at Gettysburg
1:30 PM
Muskingum at Waynesburg
1:30 PM
Juniata at Grove City
2:00 PM
Lakeland at Carroll
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-Stevens Point at St. Norbert
2:00 PM
Austin at Hendrix
2:00 PM
Maranatha Baptist at Martin Luther
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Millikin at Greenville
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Eureka at Knox
Live Stats
2:00 PM
MacMurray at Rockford
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Gustavus Adolphus at Westminster (Mo.)
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at Luther
2:00 PM
Beloit at Lake Forest
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Jamestown
2:00 PM
Crown at Hamline
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Carleton at Macalester
2:00 PM
Bethel at Dubuque
2:00 PM
St. Scholastica at St. John's
Live Stats
2:00 PM
St. Olaf at Grinnell
2:00 PM
Buena Vista at Mayville St.
2:00 PM
Simpson at UW-Stout
2:00 PM
Aurora at Carthage
2:00 PM
UW-River Falls at Coe
2:00 PM
Ripon at Concordia-Chicago
2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Loras
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
2:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Robert Morris-Chicago
2:00 PM
Benedictine at Wheaton (Ill.)
2:00 PM
John Carroll at UW-Oshkosh
2:30 PM
Southern Virginia at Earlham
Live Stats
2:30 PM
Lawrence at Presentation
4:00 PM
La Verne at Puget Sound
Live Stats
4:00 PM
Central at Whitworth
5:00 PM
Hartwick at Western Connecticut
6:00 PM
Wabash at Albion
6:00 PM
Maryville (Tenn.) at Berry
6:00 PM
Augustana at Mount St. Joseph
6:00 PM
Thomas More at Franklin
Live Stats
6:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Averett
6:00 PM
Redlands at Trinity (Texas)
7:00 PM
Hiram at Westminster (Pa.)
7:00 PM
Thiel at Allegheny
7:00 PM
Capital at Wittenberg
7:00 PM
Shenandoah at Gallaudet
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Illinois College at Rose-Hulman
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Hanover at Centre
7:00 PM
Geneva at Frostburg State
7:00 PM
Nichols at Westfield State
7:00 PM
Greensboro at Guilford
Live Stats
7:00 PM
LaGrange at Birmingham-Southern
7:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
7:00 PM
Anderson at North Park
7:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Mary Hardin-Baylor
7:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Texas Lutheran
7:10 PM
St. Thomas at UW-Eau Claire
Video Live Stats
8:00 PM
Willamette at Rhodes
8:00 PM
Cornell at Iowa Wesleyan
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Augsburg at Northwestern (Minn.)
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Southwestern Assemblies at Howard Payne
8:00 PM
Sul Ross State at UT-Permian Basin
Dec. 18: All times Eastern
Final
Mount Union 49, at St. Thomas 35
@ Salem, Va.
Box Score Recap Recap Photos