Inside Opinion

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Tag: pacific lutheran university


Frosty’s lessons extended far beyond the football field

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

We’ve heard a lot recently about bad coaches, ones who curse, bully and even physically abuse their athletes, ones who give star players a free pass when they get into trouble with the law.

We need to hear more about coaches like Forrest “Frosty” Westering, a man who justly earned such accolades as “legendary” and “inspirational.” Westering, who died Friday at age 85, was all that –and more – to the legions of young men he coached in football at Pacific Lutheran University from 1972 to 2003.

Westering showed that a coach doesn’t have to be a raging, harsh disciplinarian to get results. He believed in building up his athletes, not tearing them down. A humorous force of nature, he focused on instilling and reinforcing strong values in his charges that would serve them for the rest of their lives, not just in their brief careers as student athletes.

And his game plan worked incredibly well. He made PLU a small-college powerhouse in football, winning division national championships in 1980, 1987, 1993 and 1999. Under him, PLU had 32 consecutive winning seasons; his 305 victories were the 10th-most for a college football coach.

But Westering would have been the first to say that all that took second place to the real wins: the personal victories each player made along the way. One only has to read the testimonials in the online comments to gauge the impact he had on so many lives:

• “He was always encouraging no matter how talented you may have been as an athlete. In later years I came to realize how much of a role model he was as a person.”

• “One of the finest men I have ever known. . . . Frosty may have left us, but his ideals and his accomplishments will live on forever.”

• “Those of us who played for or otherwise knew him are very lucky to have had the opportunity to learn about life from such a great man.”
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PLU’s first president was resourceful, too (but not lucky)

When writing an editorial, we often go online to see what information is available beyond what’s appeared in the newspaper or provided by contacts. In researching today’s editorial on outgoing Pacific Lutheran University President Loren Anderson, I came across a fascinating tidbit about PLU’s first president: Bjug Harstad. (Apparently his name was pronounced something like bee-yoog.) The anecdote ended up providing the lead for my editorial.

According to the PLU Timeline from university archives, Harstad was hands-on in 1898 when it came to providing funding for the budding institution, founded in 1890:

Attempting to eliminate the debt plaguing

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PLU, community owe Anderson a debt of gratitude

PLU president Loren Anderson

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

In 1898, Pacific Lutheran University was in such dire financial straits that its first president – Bjug Harstad –  headed off to Alaska for a year and a half hoping to find enough gold to bail out the school. He found none.

Current president Loren Anderson, who is leaving at the end of May and getting a big all-campus farewell Saturday at PLU, also faced a deep financial challenge when he took the reins 20 years ago. But instead of panning for gold in Alaska, he set out an ambitious strategic plan for righting the PLU ship.

Today, he’s leaving the Parkland liberal arts and professional school in a far better place than he found it two decades ago. In fact, campus historian and retired professor Philip Nordquist says Anderson has been the most successful president in PLU’s 122-year history.

It’s easy to see why Nordquist thinks so.

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