It has been years, but to me it seems like a fresh memory of a time not too long ago. I remember it was a particularly hot September day at Pacific Lutheran University back in 2001 and I was still a kid in high school.
Josh Owens, a friend of my brother’s, just came in from Camas to be an offensive lineman for the Lutes. I was with my brother there watching a PLU practice when an old man sitting on a stool piped up at me.
It was Frosty Westering.
I don’t remember much of what he said, but I remember talking about not playing anymore and how much that hurt. Then, Westering asked one poignant question that resonates today: “Do you still love the game?”
I did and I still do.
“Then that’s all that matters.”
I tell this story because I had a recent and similar experience last September walking onto Cascade Christian High football’s practice field. I was there to do a preview story on the Cougars, and as always, I approached Randy Davis, the head coach, first.
It was another great day for some football under the sun in Puyallup, and that feeling I had many years ago reappeared. It was a typical interview for a typical story, but Davis made a comment that stuck with me for the season.
To paraphrase: “A coach is only as good as the men he surrounds himself with.”
It was as if I was talking to Frosty Westering all over again.
Cascade Christian’s Davis will be honored with the Frosty Westering Coach of the Year award Thursday at the Tacoma Athletic Commission’s Salute to Sports banquet at 6 p.m. at Curtis High School.
“I’m not one much for awards, but this is pretty special to me because it was named after a guy I idolized in Frosty Westering,” Davis said. “I won’t lie, it’s pretty special to me.”
Things great people and great leaders do or say stick with people wherever they go. They inspire their team or people in general to be better, to work harder or to persevere.
Championships are never won — they are made by a team’s efforts to reach that point. That’s how Davis coaches his team: pushing them to that point of believing they will win it all from day one.
“Most kids are the same in high school. It’s how hard they’re willing to work,” Davis said. “A player who believes he’s going to win is a tough kid to defeat.”
“Randy is able to get the most out the guys that play for us,” defensive coordinator Devin Snyder added. “He gets them to believe they are championship-caliber players … It’s how I want to coach, and I’ve taken that philosophy into track this year.”
Probably no person knows Davis better than Cascade Christian offensive coordinator Brian Flattum. He’s been with Davis from the beginning, and also seen Westering coach firsthand. The parallelism between the coaches has been uncanny.
“I think the thing about Randy is that really wants to do things the right way as far as how we treat guys,” Flattum said. “He treats us (coaches) like he wants to be treated. He coaches guys the way he wants to be coached. That’s one thing I see a parallel with how Frosty coached.”
Showing how much you care matters. Any person can say the words to show they care, but words can often ring hollow if a player doesn’t see the coach care. Actions are the loudest statement any person can ever make.
Davis goes beyond that. He is engaged with his players.
“There’s an old Frosty saying: ‘A player will care how much you know until he knows how you care,’” Davis said. “So they see that and that we’re not going to go anywhere, and we’re right there with them working. So they bought in.”
Even after winning two championships, that drive adopted from Westering still shines through in Davis’ approach to the game and his craft.
It’s about the love Davis has for the game, and this award is the epitome of that passion.