Football goes on without Bostwick
After dealing with the death of head coach, Bearcats open camp
Football camp opened at Northwest Missouri State on Thursday morning, and for a program that has dealt with a tragedy during the offseason, the start of a new year was an opportunity to move forward.
Yet, no one will forget what Scott Bostwick meant to the Bearcats. He spent 17 years as a loyal defensive coordinator, passing on several job offers along the way, and was named the new head coach at Northwest Missouri when legendary coach Mel Tjeerdsma retired in December.
Six months later, Bostwick, at 49 years old, was gone. A heart attack in early June claimed his life and left family, friends and a close-knit football program crushed by his untimely death.
“We all took the loss hard,” senior quarterback Blake Christopher said. “He was with us during spring practice and was so excited about being the head coach. We were all looking forward to playing for him.”
Adam Dorrel, a former Northwest Missouri State offensive lineman and three-time captain, echoed Christopher's thoughts. Dorrel is entering his eighth season on the staff and was looking forward to helping Bostwick carry on the Northwest Missouri State tradition of success.
“Scott was an inspiration to all of us,” Dorrel said. “He worked extremely hard and was such a fiery coach, and I can say I became a better person and coach because of him. It’s been a challenge to get ready for the new season because you can’t stop thinking about what happened to him. But we are all doing our best to move forward and keep Scott in our memories.”
Bostwick left quite a mark on the program even though he never had a chance to be a head coach. In his 17 seasons, he was instrumental in helping the Bearcats win 12 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association championships and three national championships.
His efforts did not go unnoticed. In 2007, Bostwick was named the assistant coach of the year by the American Football Coaches Association.
As successful as Bostwick was as a coach, he was even more successful in the game of life.
“He was a great friend and family man,” Dorrel said. “The big thing about Scott was that he knew so many people and that wasn’t by accident. His friendship was sincere and I was fortunate to be one of his friends.”
“It’s been like a roller coaster ride this offseason, but what has really helped through all of the changes is that our new coach was already a part of the Bearcat family,” Christopher said. “If we had brought in someone from the outside, a lot of things might have changed. It’s made the entire transition a lot easier to deal with.”
As tragic as the death was, the healing process for the football team has been aided by the fact that Dorrel did get the job as head coach.
Dorrel said that when he interviewed for the job, he emphasized the importance of staying within the program to find a replacement for Bostwick.
“That was one of my selling points to the administration,” Dorrel said. “I’m glad we stayed in the Bearcat family. Obviously I wish Scott was still here and that he was still coaching, but I’m glad I was hired. I know I have one of the best college football jobs in the country and my expectations are very high. I believe we can do very well this year.”
Northwest Missouri State is picked to win the MIAA championship for the sixth consecutive season. The Bearcats have won the last five titles and nearly played for a national title in December. Northwest Missouri State had its playoff run end in a 17-13 national semifinal loss to eventual champion Minnesota-Duluth.
The Bearcats are driven to get back to the playoffs and are hoping to bring home another national title. Dorrel believes they not only have the talent to accomplish the lofty goal, but they have a team that will stick together through the good and bad times along the way.
“Our team unity is very strong,” Dorrel said. “We have really bonded together as a unit after the loss of Scott and I know our guys will play hard because Scott wouldn’t have expected anything less.”
Northwest Missouri State opens its season on Sept. 1 with a road game against Truman. The players will carry heavy hearts into that game, and while time will pass and the loss will become easier to deal with, the players will do their best to honor a man who meant so much to the program.
“We are going to dedicate this season to Scott,” Christopher said. “We want to win every game for him. He meant so much to all of us and represented what being apart of Northwest Missouri is all about. He will never be forgotten.”