By Austin Hilliker, Sports Editor
“Make the big time where you are.”
This saying may be short in length, but by no means does it fall short in its meaning. It has defined the Pacific Lutheran University Football team since 1972 when Forrest “Frosty” Westering first came to PLU and still stands true today.
The saying was established to focus on being a better overall person, not worrying about the amount of fans watching the game or getting treated like a celebrity on campus. The focus was extended past the gridiron, to the community, home and wherever else a PLU football player would venture off to.
Frosty came to PLU from Lea College, a small private liberal arts school in Alberta Lea, Minn. He was the head football coach there from 1966-1971, and accumulated a 27-22-2 record while there.
Despite an average record during his time at Lea College, something clicked for Frosty and his coaching staff at PLU.
He ranks ninth in wins in college football history, appearing in eight national championships and winning four of them.
Most people would focus on 303 wins, but to him, winning was just a by-product.
This philosophy still holds strong today as Frosty’s son, Scott Westering, continues to live out the life-changing traditions and values within it.
For the players within the rich and cultivating program, it’s a rather simple concept that takes just a day to jump into, but almost four years to fully appreciate.
Reflecting as a senior
Being able to reflect on the PLU football journey is an experience all its own.
With all eligibility exhausted, senior Derek Kaufman found that this reflection process was unlike anything he had ever experienced before. Kaufman found that being a PLU football player was something special.
“For a football player specifically, it’s different than being a part of any other team on campus,” Kaufman said. “The reputation of the EMAL legacy left by Frosty places each player under an umbrella of morality whether they like it or not.”
The acronym “Every Man A Lute,” or EMAL, has been associated with the program for more than 40 years now. Each year it has brought together almost 100 young men with the focus of growing to be a better person.
The effects of the program
Once you have gone through the program and experienced its life-changing effects, it’s hard to drop the habits you learn from it. Kaufman found this to be true all throughout his career and believes that the reputation of EMAL and the program itself carries what he calls “good weight.”
“The life values given to each football player are second to none when compared to other programs,” Kaufman explained. “It carries good weight because of the EMAL reputation of being selfless, a self-starter and a hard working individual.”
Kaufman also said that not everyone can understand the tight knit group as well as its members can.
“Bad weight is only really from judgments made by people who see the EMAL persona as ‘corny’, but they can only really understand it if they experience being a football player themselves,” Kaufman said.
Down the road
Now that Kaufman has been through the program, he is looking toward graduation this spring. He still holds on to a few key things from the program and doesn’t plan on letting them go anytime soon.
At the beginning of every year, each player receives a notebook. Besides the playbook, passing routes and running schemes, the notebook also includes something special.
The guts of the book; known as the goal-setting program, influential sayings and poems, in addition to references of what PLU football is really about, is what has really changed these boys into men.
“The notebook is a gold mine in my eyes. I will look back to this from time to time however I believe the key values it preaches are instilled in me at this point,” Kaufman said. “I will even teach my children these key values, that’s how much it means to me.”
The most notable part of this gold mine is the simple acronym of L.U.T.E.S.
To PLU football players, this acronym defines what each player strives towards.
The “L” stands for “love the game”, the “U” stands for “uncommon”, the “T” stands for “total release”, the “E” stands for “enjoy the trip” and the “S” stands for “servant warrior.”
To “love the game” is to soak in every moment whether it’s a good day or bad day.
To be “uncommon” is to step outside the norm and do something positive that separates you from others.
To “total release” is to give it your best shot with 100 percent effort.
To “enjoy the trip” is to love every moment throughout your journey.
To be a “servant warrior” is to step outside yourself and help others while competing with a great spirit.
The program has altered so many lives for the better that Scott Westering, to this day, still gets letters from former players about how special the program was to them and what it has done for their lives specifically.
Like Kaufman, some of the men even say that their children, without a doubt will come to play for PLU.
“I wouldn’t mind my children attending PLU,” Kaufman said. “I’d like them to go where they actually want to go, but if they choose PLU I would be pleased,” Kaufman said.
The program has shown that it has positive effects. One of the biggest things that most of the players learn to understand is that you just have to make the big time where you are. 🅼