Puyallup: Sports

After several injury-plagued years, PLU’s Westering loving playing in the moment

Pacific Lutheran’s Kellen Westering (7) makes a catch in the fourth quarter of an Oct. 29 game against the University of Puget Sound at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup.
Pacific Lutheran’s Kellen Westering (7) makes a catch in the fourth quarter of an Oct. 29 game against the University of Puget Sound at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup. jbessex@gateline.com

After suffering through several seasons cut short by one injury after another, Rogers High alum and current Pacific Lutheran University wide receiver Kellen Westering is finally getting the chance to enjoy the show.

And PLU is finally getting a chance to experience what the program has been missing at wide receiver over the past few seasons.

“It’s been a great season this year, and looking at last year, I didn’t even play last year because of an injury,” Westering said.

“We are only guaranteed nine games per year, and they go by so fast,” he added. “And so many guys come back saying, ‘Don’t take one week for granted.’”

Westering hasn’t taken his first fully-healthy season with PLU for granted. The Rogers graduate has put his skills to full use through eight games.

Entering the week, Westering had racked up 590 receiving yards (14.8 average yards per catch) on 40 receptions with six touchdowns, including key scores over the last two weeks in games against both the University of Puget Sound (Oct. 29) and Lewis & Clark (Nov. 5).

The numbers are particularly impressive considering PLU has deployed a trio of quarterbacks — John Schaub, Cole Chandler and Walker LaVoy — to get the job done this season.

“As a receiver, when you play in a two-quarterback system, the ball’s going to be at different spots,” Westering said. “The ball’s normally going to be at one certain spot because you’re used to your No. 1 guy. But I’ve (got) three quarterbacks in John (Schaub), Walker (LaVoy) and Cole (Chandler). It’s just getting used to them on the fly.”

That means different motions and different strokes as each signal-caller has their own unique touch to the offense.

“It’s definitely been more challenging because you have to get reps with all three of those guys ... (it’s) just the way we’ve been rotating,” Westering added. “But thankfully I’ve been able to play in every game.”

With PLU now sitting at 5-3 with an upcoming meeting with national powerhouse Linfield (7-1) in McMinnville, Oregon this weekend, Westering’s season has been nothing but success.

After missing so many games to injury — and losing seasons in the process — it hurt Westering not being able to play for his father, coach Scott Westering, as well as carry on the legacy of his grandfather, the legendary Frosty Westering.

“Before I first came here, I asked him, ‘So do I call you Scott?’” said Westering about coming to PLU and entering on his family legacy. “(Scott) said, ‘You can call me Dad.’ That’s just what like what he said my grandfather said when he was coaching him.”

Sometimes it’s hard to want to come to a program with such a weight hovering over it, and that’s why Westering wasn’t trying to come to PLU right away. He wanted to discover who he was away from the life he’s always lived growing up on the Lute sidelines, first with his grandfather and then his father.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about the stats for me,” Westering admitted. “It’s about just about being able to be in these games. My dad told me before the season, ‘Kellen, stop and look around. After a play, stop and look up into the stands and remember how blessed you are to be able to play.’”

It was the choice the youngest Westering didn’t want to admit at first — the one that was the right one all along. It was the one he was groomed into all his life.

“With all the knee surgeries and the things I’ve had to deal with — the fact I’m able to run is a miracle,” the receiver said.

Now, with Linfield on the near horizon, Westering is hoping that the best has yet to come.

He has the chance to play against a former high school teammate in Wildcat running back Andy Nelson as well as continue the Rams-Vikings rivalry in facing Puyallup High graduates Tyler Torgerson, Michael Fuller and Maceo Thomas-Murphy.

“It’s always good to compete against people you’ve known your whole life,” Westering said.

With everything that Westering has gone through with his injuries, it’s almost as if he can hear his grandfather’s words — a phrase that not only epitomizes what it means to play any sport at Pacific Lutheran University but one Frosty would surely say to his grandson for his stellar season: “Attaway, Kellen!”