Making Your Big Time: A Tribute to Frosty Westering
Over 300 wins, four national championships and a top 10 ranking among all-time college football coaches.
Now that’s success!
Those numbers belong to Frosty Westering, the longtime coach of the Division III Pacific Lutheran University Lutes, who recently passed away this April. With numbers like that, you would be hard pressed to find anyone to say that he wasn’t a great coach or didn’t know how to win.
While most individuals would associate winning records and championships with the definition of a successful coach, Frosty exemplified everything about success that wasn’t just focused around game plans, scripts and high dollar recruiting budgets. Winning to him was just a by-product of two things, love and commitment. Frosty went into every battle with those two things as if they were his sword and shield and yet he always came out, victorious and unscathed from combat. Not bad for a guy that believed in singing before games and helping opponents up after putting them on their tails, right?
But I didn’t know Frosty as a coach. I knew him as the author of one of the most influential books of not only my coaching career, but of every intern’s, graduate assistant’s and athletes that have ever been a part of my life; Make the Big Time Where You Are. A book that was recommended to me when I was an intern and one that will remain a staple in every “which book would you recommend” question I get for as long as I live.
If you’re looking for the “Holy Grail” of program design, this is it. If you want the inside edge on others in this field, go ahead and place your order. But you won’t find anything about sets, reps and multi-syllable, unpronounceable periodization schemes. Not even a hint of corrective exercise, primal flow, postural restoration. Not one. Zero. None.
So, what’s the big deal?
While my coaching career of less than 10 years may be considered almost nil to many of you in this field, I’ve worked in almost every capacity as a strength and conditioning coach thus far. With stops as a student personal trainer, intern, GA, college assistant, head college coach, NFL assistant, and now “private sector coach” and business partner, my resume has more bullets points than a BB gun carnival game. But, does this mean I know what it takes to be successful?
I’ll be the first one to tell you, not even close.
And Frosty’s “Make the Big Time Where You Are” helped me understand that.
Unfortunately, a lot of us still set our sights on the end goal, our five and ten year plans. We look to the end of the road and define our success on how many championships we’ve won, how many zeroes at the end of our paychecks and possibly how many kids “we trained” that made it to the league. Instead of worrying about right now, we worry about what’s next. Instead of taking care of the responsibilities we have now, we worry about the job we want next. Rather than accepting the role of a mentor, a leader and a positive influence on today’s youth, we blame what we CAN’T do on inadequate facilities, lack of help and appreciation.
I know. I was one of them. And my family and I learned from it.
But, I’m not writing this article to tell coaches what they think is important to them. If they truly believe in their heart that their BIGTIME comes down to bigger wallets, countless Twitter mentions and unlimited Nike gear, then that’s their deal…and I wish them nothing but full hearts of satisfaction and peaceful nights of sleep. However, I want you all to know that an old man in the western corner of the United States figured it out. He chose to do it a different way and he was damn good at doing it.
So, if you’re looking for some self-realization, a little cold water on your face, or some sort of recharge and revival, consider a few of Frosty’s lessons from his book the next time a parent or coach ENTRUSTS you to develop their son, daughter and team.
- The big time is not a place; it’s the state of your heart. It’s not what lies at the end of the road; it’s the road itself. If you keep your eyes on the finish line the whole time, you’ll arrive empty, unsatisfied and lonely. Enjoy and EMBRACE THE PROCESS!
- Habits start like twigs that are easily broken. But throughout time, they become steel rods.No one ever rose to the top without breaking a twig or two. Be strong in your struggles and consistent with your efforts. Don’t ever ask for a lighter load; ask for a stronger back.
- Are you playing the PUT UP game or the PUT DOWN game? Is your constructive criticism really constructing something or just tearing something down, like self-esteem and confidence?
- All of us have a gap between what we CAN be and what we ARE. It’s called the Performance-Potential Gap. Help yourself and those around you shrink the gap of what I can beàwhat I am.
- Do we remember that the real measure of success isn’t a comparison to others, but rather to oneself? Why are we worried about how we measure up to others? It should be ME vs. WE.
- Are you striving towards the finish or arriving? Despite the advancements and conveniences of coaching and training methodologies, if our athletes and coaches don’t enjoy the short little roads along the way, what good is it? Don’t get caught up in the fruits of test week. Make it a priority to enjoy the labors of the phases leading up to it.
- Every single one of us has the power of CHOICE. We choose to have a bad day or make it a good day. You can be one of two things, a thermostat or a thermometer. A thermometer reacts to outside conditions, heat and cold. It allows everything outside its control affect its behavior. A thermostat stands its ground and doesn’t budge. Not for heat. Not for cold. Not for anyone.
- Symbolically, every day is like going up to bat at a baseball game. We’ll hit some, miss some, knock some out and even cover a few bases or two. But we always end up with a batting average. To raise our batting average, we need to play the right games, adjust our days and expectations and despite the weather or conditions, MAKE it a good day.
- People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. You know how to program block periodization? Fix their rotary stability score from a 1 to 3? Great. But that’s not going to help you console a scared athlete coming back from a season ending injury or an athlete who is so burnt out from the pressures of his sport coach and father. Learn the power of caring and communicating before you worry about getting another certification.
- Your character is what you stand for and your reputation is what you fall for. Enough said.
Lastly, do you remember why you’re a coach? Is it to instill fear and threats to make athletes motivated? Are you here to better yourself or better the lives around you? In my opinion (and I reserve the right to be wrong), coaching is about servant hood; caring for and meeting the needs of our athletes before the needs of ourselves. It’s leaving a legacy for those around us long after we’re gone and proving to others you can do it the right way.
Frosty did it the right way. Will you?
Adam Feit is a father and husband. He’s also the Director of Sports Performance for Reach Your Potential Training (RYPT), a private sports performance facility in New Jersey and can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.