It’s Monday, and that means the newest issue of Hail Varsity is getting ready to make its way into your mailbox. This issue is packed with some awesome looks at the new head coach of Nebraska, Scott Frost, and it's one you’re not going to want to miss.
I’ve got a story in there too. A big one. In anticipation of Frost’s return, I traveled to Wood River, Nebraska, to see his old stomping grounds, talk to some local people about the state of the football program (you can probably guess how those talks went) and hopefully find some that knew him from back in high school.
I saw an old friend from back home do this on a major profile he wrote a few months back (shout out to you Cody) and thought it was a great idea, so, here are some leftovers from my conversations that didn’t quite make it in. If you want to read the full story, you know what to do.
Steve Spiehs, Frost’s left guard in high school, remembered more about his friend off the football field than he did on. He remembered the crazy stories of Frost running all over defenses with dozens of cameras fixed on him, but the more private times stuck out the most.
One of the first times Spiehs went over to Frost’s house after he moved to town, Spiehs found him in his room reading his Bible.
“He was rooted in that early on,” Spiehs said. “I think that really helped mold his character.”
They had a bond that was organic and Spiehs said it took off pretty quickly. Soon after, Frost and his brother, Steve, started working on Spiehs’ family’s farm as a summer job.
“Sometimes that was real great because they were hard workers,” Spiehs said as he started to laugh. “But sometimes, with Scott and I on a project, we’d get a little distracted and weren’t as productive as we could have been.”
He remembered one summer in particular when the family had remodeled and rebuilt its feed yard, and the surrounding fence needed replacing and repainting. Spiehs said there was a special kind of paint they had to use, there was a unique way they had to apply the paint (without brushes) and they had to wear protective gloves.
“That was a task,” he said.
So, sometimes the boys just wouldn’t bother with that task.
“If it was unbearably hot or the humidity was crazy, sometimes we’d go into [the nearby town of] Cairo and go swimming. We’d call it a day early.”
I asked Eric Nielsen what his favorite memory of Frost from their high school days was. The former Wood River left tackle’s mind instantly went to a Garth Brooks concert the two attended early on when Frost got to town.
“Scott knew I was a huge Garth Brooks fan and if I remember right, I think it was our sophomore year in high school, Garth was playing [in Nebraska],” Nielsen said. “Scott asked me if I wanted to go with him; heck yeah I wanted to go with him. So me, him and his cousin went to Garth Brooks.”
But Nielsen kept thinking, trying to remember something different, something better maybe.
“That’s a tough one,” he said, “because I’m thinking Garth Brooks and I’m thinking our senior prom when we wound up riding go-carts in tuxedos.”
“We showed up there to this go-cart track to ride go-carts and the guy looked at us like we were crazy but hey, we had fun,” Nielsen said with a laugh.
Their last year at Wood River, Frost, Nielsen and their group of friends took their dates out to a nice, fancy dinner before their senior prom. After dinner was over, they somehow convinced those dates to put off the dance for a little while longer and go out to the go-cart track. The girls didn’t want to ride, but the guys did. So, fully clad in black-tie formal attire, the boys skipped the start of prom for some racing.
Who’s idea was it?
“Probably Scott’s,” Nielsen said.
Nielsen remembered one more time, too. One Friday afternoon before a home game, his grandma wanted him and Frost over for a pregame meal at her house. Frost, being the kid that he was, agreed and they had supper together.
“She kind of knew at that time what Scott was going to be so she washed the plate that he was eating on real quick and then had him sign the plate with a sharpie,” Nielsen said. “My mom still has that plate right now.”
Spiehs and Frost have, throughout the course of their friendship, been a lot of places together. Spiehs went to Frost’s wedding in Phoenix with his wife, and Frost was Spiehs’ best man in his wedding. They used to go to Wyoming football camps in high school and hike in the mountains before leaving. And then there’s the visits to see Frost’s games as a coach (more on that in the magazine).
But they also went to Vegas together after graduating college for Frost’s brother’s bachelor party. No need to share any details about that trip because those should remain private (I’m sure you’re familiar with the Vegas motto), but Spiehs did share one highlight.
Frost convinced the group to ride the roller coaster that was on top of the New York, New York hotel building they were staying in.
“He’s like, ‘we’re going to ride this roller coaster, do you want to go?’” Spiehs recalled. “I’m like, ‘no you guys go,’ and he says, ‘nah come on man you’ve got to do it. When else are we going to do this?’
“We had just gotten ice cream before so I’m like 'oh man, you’re going to see that ice cream again,'” Spiehs joked.
But he eventually agreed and they went for a ride. Afterwards, Frost showed him that picture that all roller coasters seem to take at the exact moment you’re making the ugliest face you’ve ever made in your life.
“We’ve both got this goofy half-smile, half-scream on this roller coaster,” Spiehs said. “And I kept everything down!
“He was always a big adrenaline guy. He liked roller coasters, he liked riding the four-wheeler out on the farm. He liked doing things fast.”
And then he remembered something else, something from back in Wood River.
“When we were in tenth grade, we were both in band,” Spiehs said. “We were getting ready to march in the Harvest of Harmony parade and he forgot his trumpet.”
Try to imagine, for a moment, that scene. You’re in a parade you’re about to march through in front of almost the entire town, and you open your bag only to find you don’t have the one thing you need to actually do that. Any high school kid would be mortified. Not Frost.
Frost went to the band director and was told, “well, you’ve still got to march.”
So, march he did. The entire parade.
“He marched the entire parade route without his trumpet,” Spiehs said. “He pretended. Every time we were going to play a song, ‘instruments up,’ he pretended to have his trumpet up and playing.
“I think that was the last time he was ever not prepared for anything.”
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.