/playoffs/1999/leaving-no-question-unanswered

Leaving no question unanswered

More news about: Pacific Lutheran
Indeed, this was a championship Christmas for Lutes fans.
Photo by Pat Coleman, D3football.com

By Mark Simon
D3football.com

I'm sure someone at some point has referred to reporters as professional hemorrhoids.

That doesn't and shouldn't insult us. After all, it's our job to be a pain in the ass. There are plenty of people who don't like us, which makes those who do all the more fun to meet.

Throughout the course of the week, I had the opportunity to scan the Internet for stories about the Pacific Lutheran football team. With each article I read, I became more and more curious about how such an unusual system could succeed.

Caring and compassion is wonderful fodder for romance novels, but how could it work on the football field? And how could an 18-to-21-year-old kid, regularly surrounded by all the machismo that fills football fields, possibly become a believer? It couldn't have been something that was accepted quickly. There had to be something special about the message, or the messenger.

When it came around to asking the final question at the Pacific Lutheran press conference, that was the one piece of the puzzle that was missing in my mind.

After answering a series of questions for the Tacoma, Wash., media and introducing themselves and their philosophies to a New Jersey media that was unfamiliar with them, the Lutes were more than happy to oblige that last query at length.

As Todd McDevitt started to reply, he was interrupted by PLU head coach Frosty Westering. I learned later from one news story that before the news conference began, Westering wanted to know if his team could sit amongst the reporters, instead of separated by an elevated table. Every Man a Lute had to include the media as well.

"Todd," the 72-year-old Westering said in his soothing, Reaganesque timbre, "tell them about Western Washington."

So the Lutes wide receiver talked about two years of unhappiness and what it was like to see the PLU team pray on the sidelines for an injured player. Linebacker Luke Jacobson talked about how at first he rolled his eyes at some of the things players did, but then began to accept it once he saw that everyone else was.

Star running back Anthony Hicks was next. He explained the recruiting process that brings people in. PLU doesn't recruit, Hicks and Westering said. Players refer their friends and relatives to the coach. As each group of seniors leaves, younger siblings (44 brothers have played for the Lutes in the past 28 years) take their place.

PLU quarterback Chad Johnson was the last of the players to speak. Johnson told how he had been around the program as a ballboy, but always harbored doubts about his grandfather's way of life. Eventually they subsided. Though his story of success was filled with enough references to Jesus to cause some reporters to raise their eyebrows, there was no doubting his sincerity.

Just moments before, he appeared deep in thought. As one of his teammates was about to speak, he leaned over the table a bit and raised a 'thumbs up.'

"Good question,'' he said.

That caught me by surprise. That doesn't happen often, if ever to most reporters. It was for real. Johnson immediately sat back in his chair and continued to contemplate his response.

Some people shy from the spotlight, others shine in it. The basking period didn't end for the Pacific Lutheran team when Frosty Westering raised the championship trophy. He immediately walked over to the team's fans, to thank them for their support and good wishes. It didn't end with the postgame press conference. Westering stayed for another 15 minutes, regaling reporters with one story after another. It probably didn't end at the "Afterglow," that would have occurred win or lose.

Come to think of it, thumbs up was certainly the appropriate response, not necessarily for that question, but for the team as a whole.

As several reporters pointed out afterwards, if a movie had been made about this group, it could only have been labeled as "The Feel-Good Story of the Year."

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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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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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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Coast Guard 13, at Norwich 9
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Wittenberg 48, at Kenyon 11
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Augsburg 48, at Carleton 28
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at Bethel 64, St. Olaf 7
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at Luther 21, Dubuque 17
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at Central 52, Nebraska Wesleyan 27
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Simpson 38, at Coe 33
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Wheaton (Ill.) 40, at Elmhurst 15
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St. Norbert 66, at Grinnell 13
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at Knox 13, Ripon 6
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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 Western Connecticut 37, Salve Regina 23
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at Wesleyan 24, Tufts 17
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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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Lake Forest 42, at Lawrence 26
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Arizona Christian 56, at Whittier 38
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Shenandoah at Randolph-Macon
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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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Final
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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