Forrest ‘Frosty’ Westering enriched West Siders’ lives
In his lifetime that spanned 85 years, Forrest “Frosty” Westering, who passed away on April 12, 2013, left his mark on the college football world as one of the greatest of all time in a 40-year career spent primarily at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington.
Just recently, he was honored as the recipient of the 2012 Amos Alonzo Stagg Award given annually by the American Football Coaches Association, joining such legendary intercollegiate gridiron leaders as Bobby Bowden, Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne, Darrell Royal and Bill Walsh for their contributions to the sport.
Westering was also inducted into the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame in 2005 in recognition of his four national championships, four runner-up finishes and ninth all time record of 305-90-7.
He was voted college “Coach of the Year” three times.
But Coach Frosty’s legacy is more accurately defined by his recognition in winning the John and Nell Wooden Humanitarian Hall of Fame Award in 2004 and Fellowship of Christian Athletes for a Better World honors, for these awards relate to positive, spiritual side of athletic mentorship that was manifested in his life.
Westering was a big man with a big spirit that was built upon his deep Christian ethics and Midwestern upbringing. He served in the United States Marine Corps overseas and as a drill sergeant and later earned a Doctorate in Education from the University of Northern Colorado.
He married his high school sweetheart – who he’d gone to grammar school with – Donna Belle Jones, and they had five children, Holly, Sue, Brad, Scott and Stacey.
Frosty, as he insisted his student athletes call him, coached at the high school level and also for two college programs in the Midwest before taking over at PLU.
He never had a losing season, and the sterling record mentioned above speaks for itself. But as Frosty himself insisted, “A championship, in the world, gives you authenticity that you did it. But that doesn’t say anything until you ask, ‘What was the trip like?’
“The trip was the greatest thing in life, whether we won or we lost.”
This stands right alongside a saying from the greatest college basketball coach of all time, John Wooden, who said, “It’s not the inn that’s important; it’s the journey that matters the most.”
And that was the essence of Frosty’s approach to coaching football and, indeed, to life; leadership of a team, a family, a community based on positive Christian love.
He wrote two books, “The Strange Secret of the Big Time” and “Make the Big Time Where You Are,” that espoused his life philosophy of relentless dedication to an enthusiastic approach to life based upon his strong Christian faith.
“When you love, it comes back to you in so many ways,” he said.
Frosty’s loving approach to coaching football brought forth undeniable success that enriched the lives of the PLU student athletes, the coaches, the families, the college community, and really, to college football. He encouraged his players to help their opponents up off the turf and greet them with a kindly statement such as, “Let’s have a great game today, okay?” (My son played football at Willamette University, a Northwestern Conference rival of PLU, for four years, and he attests to this fact.)
He’d have the neighborhood ice cream truck pull up to the Lutes’ practice field to treat the players. He’d hug his players and tell them he loved them when they made mistakes on the field during games. He’d bring on a wheelchair-bound PLU student to become an assistant coach, thus invigorating this young man and prolonging his life ten years beyond what the doctors had predicted.
In so many ways, Coach Frosty thus paid forward the secret within the happiness of Christian love and positive action.
And to think our West Side community would be blessed to be able to join Frosty’s embrace is almost beyond comprehension.
It happened, as the Westering family purchased a condominium in Honokowai about ten years ago. As we were doing our college search for our son, we met Scott Westering, now the football coach at PLU. Coach Scott mentioned that the family had the Maui vacation unit, and that Frosty and Donna spent a couple of months there each year.
I was privileged and fortunate enough to meet Frosty, and a relationship between the legendary coach and the Lahaina community flourished.
He introduced the Lahainaluna High School football team to his life philosophy with such diamonds as, “Find your edge on this coin to be the best that you can be in this practice today. Every drill, every sprint, don’t think about anyone else’s best – just be your best right now.” He encouraged Lady Luna basketball and Lahaina youth softball teams to do the same and quickly became a positive influence in the community.
Popular restaurants in town have his photo and messages on the walls.
Now he’s moved on to an even higher stature above us to continue to watch over us with the Good Lord. We, too, will now move on, fortified with the knowledge of the “secret” and the “big time” that has so enriched our lives.
We thank you, Coach Frosty, and the entire Westering family. Peace and God bless you.
“As we rejoice in dad’s life, we say God is good. We know the end story here – that Frosty is with his Savior in Heaven, and we are at peace with this,” Scott said at the memorial service for his father.