/columns/around-the-nation/2014/phrase-that-stays

The phrase that stays

More news about: DePauw | Pacific Lutheran | Wabash
At Pacific Lutheran, Every Man a Lute is a reminder worn on every Lute's uniform.
2006 photo by Andrew Hou

Legendary coaches beget legendary phrases. Those words can help to cultivate the student and motivate the athlete. And they are being passed down so the next generation can draw from them inspiration.

In some cases, it’s a phrase that embodies the ideal of the young men on the field; in others, it’s turning a negative into a positive.

John Gagliardi, the famous coach who led St. John’s for six decades until his retirement in 2012, created a philosophy of Winning With Nos. That meant no whistles, no tackling during practice and no use of tires or ropes or blocking sleds, among other things. Most notably, it meant no use of the term “coach.”

When he was on the sidelines, he was just called John.

When longtime assistant Gary Fasching stepped in to fill Gagliardi’s shoes, he continued to press his players to win with those same Nos.

At DePauw, former coach Nick Mourouzis in the early 1980s also sought to put succinctly the philosophy he talked to his players about. But he had another consideration – that of rival Wabash, whose well-established athletic motto, Wabash Always Fights, dated back to an alumni rally in 1919. According to the Wabash history book These Fleeting Years, it originated after an alumnus spoke up saying, “Wabash teams do not always win, but they always fight.”

“Wabash has Wabash Always Fights,” Mourouzis said, recalling the years when we took over the reins of DePauw in central Indiana, “and we had to come up with something.”

DePauw Never Quits was then born.

“You get in a fight, you never quit; that’s a little bit better than just getting in the fight,” he said.

Mourouzis was the head coach for the Tigers from 1981 through 2003, and with a 133-82-4 record was inducted into the Indiana Hall of Fame.  He said he embraced the DePauw culture immediately and because of his almost-immediate love for the school, he said he it was important to him to instill something great early on.

Before too long, the words became emblazoned on a wall in the weight room. That, in effect, solidified its permanence in DePauw athletics.

“When they put it on the weight room wall,” he said, “I thought that made it accepting for all sports.”

Mourouzis said he’s proud of his contribution and what it means for the students who are competing.

“When people say, ‘DePauw Never Quits,’ you just have to go after it, even if you’re behind,” he said.

Integrity is also at the heart of Pacific Lutheran’s Every Man a Lute – or EMAL, as it is more commonly referred.

The “L” didn’t always mean Lute, though. College Football Hall of Fame coach Frosty Westering used that phase when he was at the helm of a school in Iowa whose nickname was the Lancers. When Westering came to PLU, it was a natural fit.

DePauw's slogan came from longtime football head coach Nick Mourouzis.
DePauw athletics 1995 file photo

“It’s our code, our ethic, our creed. It’s all-encompassing for us,” said Scott Westering, who took over from his father at PLU 11 seasons ago. “Here, it’s always been about more than champions. It’s more about how we’re going to do it, how we believe is the right way.”

EMAL, he said, is about how competition is viewed and how to accept winning and losing. It affects a student-athlete’s social life, his studies, his faith and, of course, his time playing football.

“When they’re away from home and looking in the mirror in the morning,” he said, “it’s all about who they are and the decisions that they make.”

For the coaches, they see EMAL as a responsibility as they wield influence over the lives of 18- to 22-year-old young men.

Frosty Westering, who was inducted into the Hall in 2005 and passed away in 2012, was as unique and charismatic an individual as most people would ever meet. He wrote two books, the first of which is titled Make the Big Time Where You Are.

The notion of what the “big time” really is – it’s not the salary, the job title or the fame – embodies the approach that the elder Westering put into the creation of EMAL.

As son Scott tells it: “The big time is not a place. It’s not a destination in life. It’s the state of your heart, the state of your mind. If you’re doing what you love with the people you love, where you love to do it, that’s the secret right there.”

Every Man a Lute is an unshakable part of the PLU football culture. It’s part of the recruiting process, team meetings break with “EMAL on three,” and stickers with “EMAL” are incorporated in the inside of players’ helmets.

“It’s all part of our fabric,” Scott Westering said. “It’s woven into us.”

And it’s spreading beyond Pacific Lutheran. Former Lutes have carried the culture with them added it to the environment of the programs that they coach. Sometimes, though, it’ll be EMAP, for Every Man a Patriot, or EMAB for the Braves or EMAT for Tigers.

The goal of developing a Lute in all facets of his life is so important that Westering says he tells parents, “If all I’ve done is make [a student] a great football player in four years, come and ask me for a refund, because I have failed you.”

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Adam Turer

Adam Turer graduated in 2006 from Washington and Lee University, where he was a two-year starter at free safety. He lives in Cincinnati and covers area high school sports in addition to his full-time job as an attorney. Adam has contributed to D3football.com since 2007 and is in his third season writing Around the Nation after spending four seasons writing Around the Mid-Atlantic.

2014-2015 columnist: Ryan Tipps.
2001-2013 columnist: Keith McMillan.

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