Former Pacific Lutheran University football head coach Frosty Westering has been named the 2013 recipient of the AFCA's Amos Alonzo Stagg Award. The award, which honors those "whose services have been outstanding in the advancement of the best interests of football," will be presented to Westering at the AFCA Awards Luncheon on Jan. 8 during the 2013 AFCA Convention in Nashville, Tenn.
Westering retired following the 2003 season with a spectacular record if 305-96-7 over the course of 41 years, mostly at Pacific Lutheran, but with coaching stints at Lea College and Parsons College. No team at Pacific Lutheran that Westering led ever experienced a losing season, and the Lutes won three NAIA Division II National Championships (1980, 1987, 1993) and one NCAA Division III National Championship (1999). Pacific Lutheran made it to the championship game of the NAIA Division II playoffs four other times (1983, 1985, 1991, 1994) and made it to the playoffs, in both NAIA and NCAA Division III, 11 more times.
"You know, when (AFCA Executive Director) Grant Teaff called and said I was being presented the Stagg Award, I said 'Wait a minute! You got the wrong guy!" said Westering. "Well, Grant said, 'No, no, we have the right guy.' So we were really excited about that."
Born on May 12, 1927, Westering grew up in Missouri Valley, Iowa, where he met his future wife Donna Bella Jones. Westering joined the Marines directly out of high school, where he served for two years in China and Guam before playing football for the El Toro Marines near Santa Ana, Calif. From there, Frosty went on to play for Northwestern and the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
Upon his graduation, Westering dove straight into coaching at a high schools in Elkader and Fairfield, Iowa, and besides a two-year gap to earn a doctorate in education from the University of Northern Colorado, coached until the day he retired in 2003. Westering was named national coach of the year six times by a multitude of organizations, including the AFCA and Football Gazette in 1999 and by the NAIA in 1983 and 1993. He was named Conference Coach of the Year four times, and Northwest Small-College Coach of the Year five times. Westering has been inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame, the Iowa Collegiate Coaching Hall of Fame, the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005. On top of all of these accomplishments, 26 of Westering's players were named NAIA and NCAA First Team All-Americans.
What would surprise most people is that Westering didn't achieve his record or garnish his numerous awards by being an iron-fisted dictator of the gridiron. Frosty's coaching philosophy was never about winning, and in fact it focused on improving the players and helping them reach their potential in all aspects of their life. Practices under Westering featured breaks to cheer on sunsets at nearby Mt. Rainier, time outs in games would have players pitted against each other in heated games of rock, paper, scissors, and the days that featured games rarely saw players huddled into rooms cramming plays. The culture that Westering brought to Pacific Lutheran might have been different than any of his players had experienced before, but each one bought into it throughout the years.
His players' actions would make this philosophy evident in everything they did, both on and off the field. They never swore, they didn't celebrate touchdowns excessively, and were always respectful to everyone they met, whether it be a fast food employee or a player from an opposing team. To say Frosty Westering's methods were unorthodox might be an understatement, but no one could complain with the results that his teams would put on the field.
Upon Westering's retirement, he was led into a gym where Pacific Lutheran had gathered nearly 900 of his former players - including a pair of pilots stationed in England who had flown all the way back for the occasion - who had all been changed for the better by Frosty.
"They didn't talk about the championships, they all talked about the fellowship," said Westering.
Westering led his team to 15 NAIA Division II playoffs from 1979-97, as well as making it to the NCAA Division III playoffs four of Pacific Lutheran's six years till his retirement. During the decade of the 90's, Westering's teams went an astonishing 93-19-2 (.825 winning percentage) placing Pacific Lutheran among the top 20 programs at all collegiate levels.
Through it all, though, Westering holds that making a difference in people's lives is by far the most important thing he achieved. Westering's players consistently went out into the area to volunteer their time, donating approximately 2,000 hours annually at schools in the Tacoma area. Besides his coaching accolades, Frosty has been recognized by numerous institutions for the impact he has had, winning the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, as well as the Athletes for a Better World Lifetime Achievement Awards.
The Amos Alonzo Stagg Award is given to the "individual, group or institution whose services have been outstanding in the advancement of the best interests of football." Its purpose is "to perpetuate the example and influence of Amos Alonzo Stagg."
The award is named in honor of a man who was instrumental in founding the AFCA in the 1920s. He is considered one of the great innovators and motivating forces in the early development of the game of football. The plaque given to each recipient is a replica of the one given to Stagg at the 1939 AFCA Convention in tribute to his 50 years of service to football.
Amos Alonzo Stagg
Amos Alonzo Stagg began his coaching career at the School of Christian Workers, now Springfield (Mass.) College, after graduating from Yale University in 1888.
Stagg also served as head coach at Chicago (1892-1932) and College of the Pacific (1933-1946). His 41 seasons at Chicago is one of the longest head coaching tenures in the history of the college game.
Among the innovations credited to Stagg are the tackling dummy, the huddle, the reverse play, man in motion, knit pants, numbering plays and players, and the awarding of letters.
A long-time AFCA member, Stagg was the Association's 1943 Coach of the Year.
According to NCAA records, Stagg's 57-year record as a college head coach is 314-199-35. He was 84 years old when he ended his coaching career at Pacific in 1946. He died in 1965 at the age of 103.
(Courtesy of the American Football Coaches Association)