The passing of longtime Pacific Lutheran football coach Frosty Westering represents an enormous loss for small college athletics in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Westering, who coached at PLU for 32 years, died Friday, April 12, at age 85.
Westering and PLU had many great battles on the football field, particularly during the 1980s when the two teams combined to win five of 10 NAIA national championships during the decade. Both programs also won national titles as NCAA members, first PLU in 1999, then Linfield in 2004.
A 2005 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame, Westering is one of only 11 college football coaches to have won at least 300 games. As Lutes coach, he never experienced a losing season.
In Frosty’s honor, here are some remembrances from a Linfield point of view of his career, his impact on college athletics, and his unique personality that had a positive effect on so many people.
JOSEPH SMITH, Linfield head football coach since 2006
“Frosty is, in my opinion, part of America's greatest generation of coaches. He was a rare true master coach and his knowledge of the game could fill volumes of books. However, it is the legacy of the young men he influenced that is his greatest and most lasting influence.
“The world is a better place because of Frosty. He championed the phrase ‘Servant Warrior.’ That means to possess a warrior spirit and rise to the occasion while at the same time being a servant and giving of yourself to others.
The Linfield versus PLU games pitting Frosty against Ad Rutschman were truly legendary. As iron sharpens iron, Frosty's teams made Linfield better, just as Linfield sharpened PLU.
“We who knew him, even we who played against him, recognized his amazing character and the power of his personality and convictions. To say he was a rare man, is an understatement. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have crossed paths with a man such as Frosty Westering.
“While we grieve with the Westering family and Pacific Lutheran, I know Frosty's impact will continue to shape the young men of our society for years to come.
AD RUTSCHMAN, Retired Linfield football coach (1969-1991)
“I’ve always felt that while winning was important, winning with class with more important. Frosty always ran a classy program and exemplified good sportsmanship.
“I had great respect for Frosty. People who took part in his program graduated as better human beings than when they went in.
“There were referees who officiated in the Pac-10 Conference in the 1980s who told me they would rather officiate a PLU-Linfield game than any Division I game because there might not be a single penalty called all game long.
“If you were to add up all the points of the Linfield-PLU series, there might not be more than a one point average differential. By and large, the games were always nip and tuck and always drew the biggest crowds of the season.”
JAY LOCEY Former Linfield head football coach (1996-2005)
“I got to know about Frosty even before I arrived at Linfield. He always had such a positive outlook and empowered young people with positive attitudes.
“Coaching against Frosty’s teams was always fun. Linfield-PLU games brought out the best in both programs. Competitively, you knew his team was always going to show up with great enthusiasm and ready to play hard. I’ll always consider Linfield versus PLU to be one of the best athletic interactions I’ve ever been a part of at any level.
“Frosty was such a creative mind in terms of play calling and he really had a different perspective that modeled making fun an important component of the game. He made the game of football something that his players worked hard at, but also something that they had a lot of fun doing while being successful.
“He was a great model for people in all walks of life.”
ED LANGSDORF Former Linfield head football coach (1992-95)
“Frosty was a giant of a coach, a great man, a great father, husband and mentor to an awful lot of people. My daughter and son-in-law are both PLU graduates so they knew first hand what a special person Frosty was. I don’t believe I ever saw him without a smile on his face. He was always gracious and humble, whether you talked with him before a game, after a win, or after a loss. He was a great person and adversary to compete against and the epitome of what all of us in the profession strive to be.
“His teams were always a tough opponent and we had a lot of respect for the way PLU played the game. He wasn’t afraid to be unconventional, which probably made playing football really enjoyable for his players. When PLU ran a gadget play, it often worked. I don’t ever remember getting beat by a trick play, but they usually were effective. As the opposing coach, it forced you to have to prepare for everything.”
TIM MARSH, Linfield Class of 1970, former sports information director
The movie is 'An Officer and a Gentleman.' I remember Frosty Westering as a "Coach and a Gentleman." My view comes from two perspectives. In the early 1970s, I was sports information director at Northwest Conference member Whitman College. I recall talking to him before a PLU at Whitman football game at Borleske Stadium in Walla Walla. But, all the rest of the time I saw him as a worthy coach leading the Lutes versus my favorite team, the Wildcats, in often intensely competitive football contests.
"One of the most exciting games was one I did not see. I heard it on my car radio in a parking lot in Tigard. The signal from McMinnville's KMCM radio was wavering, but strong enough for me to hear Linfield win it in the final seconds. After that victory, I pictured Linfield players carrying Coach Ad Rutschman off Maxwell Field on their shoulders. And I could also picture Frosty, with a smile on his face, reaching up and shaking Ad's hand and congratulating him on a great game. Frosty Westering, always a coach and gentleman, and his Lute teams were class acts."
KELLY BIRD, Linfield sports information director since 1989
“Frosty always impressed me as a kind of coach I might choose to play for and excel under as a student-athlete. He thrived on positive reinforcement and built his coaching style around having his teams compete against their own best efforts, rather than against a particular opponent.
“He was part messiah, part pied piper and part football coach, all rolled into one. As SID, I am nearly always the last person to leave the stadium, usually two or more hours after a game. But that was seldom the case when Linfield played PLU, because Frosty would be leading ‘Afterglow’ sessions in the grandstand well into evening. When I asked someone why they would spend all that time chanting and patting one another on the back after games instead of getting on the road, the response was ‘The Lutes enjoy one another’s company so much, there’s no reason to rush home.’ It made sense.
“The title of Frosty’s book ‘Make the Big Time Where You Are’ really resonates with me. Though I’ve not read the book, the title says it all: Make the most of life in the space and place that you currently occupy because the grass isn’t necessarily greener somewhere else. It’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed at Linfield for so long. Frosty would be proud to know I hug my kids each day as they leave the house for school, reminding them to ‘Make the Big Time.’
“Frosty’s notion of focusing on one’s personal journey, rather than an ultimate destination, also sticks with me. Each day we all need to pause long enough to appreciate the people, places and things along the pathway of life, rather than worrying about what might be waiting for us on the other end. We may never arrive. Thank you, Frosty, for these important lessons.”
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128