MARYVILLE, Mo. — Scott Bostwick first donned his red hat in an effort to stand out on the Bearcat sidelines so he could make signals to his Northwest defense. Rich Wright wears it for the same purpose and to honor his friend and mentor.
On Family Weekend against Central Missouri, a stadium full of people will match everyone around them with a sea of red caps to recognize the man who helped turn Bearcat football into the Bearcat family.
“I can’t think of a better time to honor Scott than on Family Weekend,” Bearcat Hall of Fame coach Mel Tjeerdsma said. “The Bostwick family is the epitome of what Family Weekend is all about.”
Current Bearcat co-defensive coordinator and Scott’s brother Chad Bostwick says it is always special to run out of the tunnel and see all the red in the crowd.
“The very cool thing is when our kids run out of the tunnel and they look up at the crowd and everyone has red hats on,” Chad Bostwick said. “That is always something that is very special to me and my family.”
The legendary Northwest Missouri State defensive coordinator passed away shortly after he was named the head coach in 2011. Despite passing away over 11 years ago, the current Bearcats, who were in elementary school when Bostwick died, are well aware of what Bostwick means to the past and current Bearcat success.
“With coach Chad Bostwick being my coach, we get to hear a lot of great stories about Scott and the type of man he was — not only coach,” Northwest senior captain Sam Phillips said. “It is just ingrained in you here with that family atmosphere. You take that on as a player.
“Something that Coach Bostwick always says that Scott would say is ‘We are going to fly around with our hairs on fire,’ and so that is something we are going to try to do this weekend.”
Chad Bostwick played for his brother as a linebacker at Northwest.
“I feel like it is really important to keep his legacy alive and keep that going,” Chad Bostwick said. “Family Week is a great week to talk about some of those things and talk about the impact that he had on this program. It is crazy to think that it has been over 11 years now. … I feel like it is very important to give these kids the knowledge of what he meant, what he did for this program and how special he was to all of us.”
Scott Bostwick’s legacy can’t be told without the word ‘family.’ Family is the word that Tjeerdsma and Bostwick desired to build their culture around when Tjeerdsma was hired to lead a floundering Bearcat program in 1994.
“When we came here, that is what we wanted from our kids,” Tjeerdsma recalled. “We wanted them to be a family.
“It didn’t just happen, it was something that we felt was really important.”
Tjeerdsma and Bostwick made it a point not to just recruit players at Northwest Missouri State, but to recruit families to join their program.
“We made a concerted effort to make sure that the parents came on the visit,” Tjeerdsma remembers. “We didn’t require it, but we almost did require it, you know. We wanted the parents to be involved right away.”
That recruitment of families has been proven time and time again with brothers often joining their siblings at Northwest. Chad Bostwick’s two top linebackers currently on the roster are examples of that with Isaac Vollstedt and Sam Phillips following their All-American brothers to Northwest.
“The kids like that family culture,” Chad Bostwick said. “It is not fake. They really buy into it. Again, that is something that is very important to all of us.”
Vollstedt’s brother Jacob remains in the Maryville community as a member of the Spoofhound coaching staff.
Tjeerdsma remembers parents being a huge part of the Bearcats’ recipe for success early with traditions like the post-Fall Camp potluck which was organized by the coaching staff and the mothers of the players. Another tradition was having a parent of a player come give a pre-game speech to the team prior to the Family Weekend game.
“To me, that was a special time because it gave them a chance to speak for the parents to the team about how important it was for them to be involved and how they loved being a part of the team,” Tjeerdsma said.
The thing that also resonates with the legendary coach is how his defensive coordinator embodied Family Weekend all the time at his Maryville home.
“The Bostwick family and Scott, they were the epitome of family,” Tjeerdsma said. “… They lived right down Grand Avenue … and you just knew that after every home game that there were going to be cars lined up all the way up Grand and that they were all over at Bostwick’s house. The family expanded, we will put it that way. … Everything they did was family-oriented.”
In addition to Chad Bostwick, the current Bearcat coaching staff is filled with connections to Bostwick — led by head coach Rich Wright. Wright was the defensive line coach under Bostwick and was named the team’s defensive coordinator by Bostwick.
Special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach Brandon Clayton was a star on Bostwick’s defenses in the late 2000’s before working for Bostwick as a graduate assistant.
“A lot of the success of our program is because the kids care about each other and the family is so strong,” Tjeerdsma said.
Even the Mules’ sideline this week will have someone very familiar with Bostwick’s legacy. Central Missouri quarterback Josh Lamberson quarterbacked Northwest Missouri State in the mid-2000’s.
“Scott was one of the pillars of the Northwest football family,” Lamberson said. “His presence was radiating, and he had a special way of making everyone around him better. Scott had a major influence on my life in the way he taught me to live in the moment and enjoy the things in life that are right in front of us. ‘The big time is where you are at.’ — live life to the fullest, in the life that you are living — and that is certainly what Scott Bostwick was all about.”
While Bostwick’s legacy revolves around the family culture he cultivated, it also is about the tradition of excellence on the defensive side of the ball that he developed. Wright has continued that tradition and he expects nothing but the best effort from his defense with the red hats in full force on Saturday.
“Scott was a big part of my life,” Wright said. “Yeah, we are going to play well on Family Day.”