December 18, 1999

Being is believing

More news about: Pacific Lutheran
Frosty Westering on the sidelines.
Photo by Pat Coleman, D3football.com

By Mark Simon
D3football.com

SALEM, Va. – Gee whiz. Golly gee. Holy cow.

What's most amazing about the hokey-sounding Pacific Lutheran philosophy is just how people managed to believe in it in the first place.

Holding hands in a human chain as they came back to the sideline? Patting an opponent on the helmet and telling them how impressed you were with how they tackled you? Singing songs from Phantom of the Opera with pilots on the flight out? Going on television the day before the game and saying "We don't have to win this game." What is this, a football team or a Boy Scout troop?

"When you get into love and caring," said 72-year-old Pacific Lutheran coach Frosty Westering, "and you touch everyone, they know it's for real. They found consistency in me because I walk my talk. I've heard it said that some of what we do is kids' stuff. Well, maybe what the world needs is more kids."

PLU wide receiver Todd McDevitt spent two years at Western Washington and hated it. When Westering played football, first at Northwestern and then at Nebraska-Omaha, he found the same thing to be true. Instead of saying he couldn't change things, he went about doing so.

"All that mattered (at Western Washington) was winning football games," said McDevitt, the recipient of two touchdown passes from quarterback Chad Johnson, "and it rubbed me the wrong way. I was in the stands for a playoff game against Pacific Lutheran and I saw them kneeling and praying for an injured teammate with their gold helmets off. (I decided to transfer) and it has been one of the most positive experiences of my life. It is different from any other athletic program."

Seeing is believing as far as sincerity is concerned. Watching how serious they were, even as newspaper reporters shook their heads, raised their eyebrows and giggled, was astounding. The players at the podium at the postgame press conference laughed among themselves when they heard Frosty Westering tell a story for the umpteenth time, but were all business when asked what their newfound belief systems have meant to them.

"I was wide-eyed the first few weeks here," said defensive lineman Luke Jacobson, "but you get used to it after a couple of weeks. It changes you. You see the other side when you visit your family and friends. When you play other teams, the way some play compared to us, you can't believe that you ever played that way."

Johnson knows as well as anyone just how much Grandpa Frosty believes. He was raised in the environment of love and understanding, but grew skeptical during his freshman season. When he became a born-again Christian during the offseason, he got the true understanding of Westering's double-win philosophy.

"Grandpa bleeds this stuff," said Johnson. This is what he is all about."

It's amazing how simple life and football can be sometimes. I've used this saying in other stories before, but I feel that it's particularly appropriate here. PLU football – loving it and living it – comes down to the most basic of principles.

Don't worry. Be happy.

"I wouldn't coach," said Westering, "if it were any other way."

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