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!

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