ANTHONY HICKS (Pacific Lutheran University)
Anthony caught the vision of training at a young age and even set up a BFS Clinic at his high school. Just recently he helped his team win a National Championship at Pacific Lutheran University.
By Greg Shepard
Published: Summer 2000
Anthony Hicks is an eleven. Out of several thousand BFS Clinics done around the world, he is the only high school student to set one up by himself. When Anthony was a junior at Tumwater High School in the state of Washington, his highly successful football coach, Sid Otten, said, “If you want a BFS Clinic so bad, you call them up and set it up.” Undeterred, Anthony called us to set up a date. However, he learned that you needed a $500.00 reservation fee. This was a stumbling block. Coach Otten put the responsibility all on Anthony. He got with his older brother who was a college student. They discussed the challenge. These two brothers came from a single mom family and money was extremely tight. They put the reservation fee on a credit card with hopes Tumwater athletes would pay to attend. Through Anthony’s leadership, the BFS Clinic was a huge success. Anthony Power Cleaned 300 and Dead Lifted 600 for me at the clinic. Coach Otten said, “I needed this. I am on fire again.” We both marveled at Anthony’s determination to be successful.
Anthony started lifting in the 7th grade but really hit it hard by his 9th grade year. “My brother had a friend, Craig Osborn,” said Anthony. “He would pick me up whether I wanted to go to the gym or not. My older brother Jamie is my biggest mentor ever. He got Craig to pick me up. Craig was six years older but I just tried to lift what he could.” Anthony’s best bench in high school was 440 and he squatted 635 with a vertical jump of 32 and an electronic 40 time of 4.62 seconds.
Anthony played baseball in his first three years at Tumwater and then switched to track where he threw the shot 54-5 and ran the 100 meters in 11.0 seconds. He also formed a powerlifting team. “We had five guys,” remembered Anthony. “We had fun at meets and even won the state meet with just the five of us. We did everything on our own.” Anthony maintained a 3.3 GPA and was also active in school theater.
“I’d have parties in high school at my property,” said Anthony, “but I never drank. People would tell me that they wished they could be like me with a drink in their hand. As captains at Tumwater, we had a pact that we wouldn’t drink. I also never chewed, smoked or did drugs.”
Anthony and team had a great year. Anthony was a first team BFS Football All-American and listed by Northwest Nugget as one of the top 100 football players on the West Coast. He also earned numerous all-league and all-area honors at running back, including league MVP honors. Anthony chose to accept a scholarship to play at the University of Washington. Things started out well as a Huskie as he was named most inspirational freshman. However, after his sophomore year, Anthony made a momentous decision. For a variety of reasons, Anthony did not like the business aspect of Division I football. You see, he had this unique idea that football should be fun. Pacific Lutheran University with Frosty Westering was a perfect match. Anthony transferred and never looked back. “I would never change what I did,” said Anthony with conviction. “I learned so much from experiencing both Division I and Division III football.” As things turned out, it was a great decision.
Pacific Lutheran University was founded in 1890 and has a current enrollment of approximately 3600 students from many denominations. It is located 40 miles south of Seattle in suburban Tacoma. Its founders, Scandinavian pioneers studied the charge of Martin Luther who was a principal leader in the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. Luther exhorted, “We must spare no diligence, time, or cost in educating our children, that they might serve God and the world.” From the very beginning their mission was clear.
Head PLU Football Coach Frosty Westering has taken this mission to heart. He has just completed his 36th year as a collegiate head coach culminating in this year’s Division III national championship. His overall record is 277-84-7, a .767 winning percentage, which puts him into a small, select crowd. Coach Westering has been at PLU since 1972 and his teams have won NAIA Division II national titles in 1980, 1987 and 1993 with runner-up seasons in 1983,1985, 1991 and 1994. No PLU team under his guidance has had a losing season. Coach Westering has won numerous Coach of the Year awards. He is in high demand as a motivational speaker and his book Make The Big Time Where You Are is a must read for any coach. Coach Westering and his wife, Donna, have five children and 11 grandchildren.
Anthony loves Coach Westering’s approach. “It makes no difference if you win or lose. It’s how you competed.” Anthony also shared Frosty’s “After Glow.” “It’s a meeting after the game,” related Anthony. “We concentrate on playing your best self. The only thing I can control is to try to improve myself. To become my best self.”
PLU was a huge underdog for the national championship game against Rowan. They were supposed to get crushed. So what do you do to get ready to play such an intimidating foe? Anthony just smiled. “We sang the 12 Days of Christmas as loud as we could. It was a controlled calm and intensity.” PLU won 42-13.
The Lutes of PLU won in only their second year in NCAA Division III football. Their men’s teams compete in 11 sports while the women compete in 10 sports. They are in a nine-school alliance called the Northwest Conference. PLU has won the All-Sports Trophy 13 times in its 14-year history. The Lutes play their football at Sparks Stadium which is covered and seats 4,500. The stadium features artificial turf and a large press box.
Anthony has only missed three workouts in his entire college career. He has achieved a 333- pound Power Clean, a Parallel Squat of 650 and a 475 Bench. “The thing that has changed,” says Anthony, “is my body fat. It is 6.3% and I’m 5-11 and weigh 221 pounds.” At the pro combine in March, Anthony had a great day. He Benched 225 for 28 reps, ran a 4.49 forty and soared to 37.5 inches on the Vertical Jump.
“To play football in the NFL used to be a dream. Now it’s a goal. A realistic one,” smiled Anthony confidently. “To be successful you have to have determination and have unity. Everyone striving to make themselves into their best selves. At PLU you have to work for everything. For two-a days we took a trip down the Oregon Coast. No footballs were allowed. We had fun and got unified. Nothing about football. It was all about relationships. We talked about expectations. We had competitions. We won our first game and we were unified. Somehow, we were also completely organized.”
Anthony made six different All-America teams. He rushed for 116.6 yards per game and scored 23 touchdowns. En route to the national championship, Anthony set a playoff record for touchdowns. He was also the MVP of the Lutheran All-Americans which consists of colleges from Division I-AA to Division III. Anthony was the Northwest League MVP and also a PLU team captain and PLU MVP. In 1998 Anthony was Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Have all these honors gone to his head?
Not in the slightest. Anthony’s favorite saying is about this very subject. “To be humble when brought low is one thing but to be humble when praised upon is a rare and great achievement.” Anthony also believes the most important thing in his life is God. He will graduate this May as a theater major. Anthony hopes to one day teach drama, theater and coach. He then spouted off another Frostyism, “That’s what I want to do for a loving.”
Frosty Westering has had a big impact on Anthony. He looked at me with emotion and concluded, “Frosty taught me about what he called ‘Ataways’. He has us all stop to look at Mt. Rainier, and then to take a moment to ponder and appreciate it’s power and majesty. We would then chant, ‘Hey, mountain. Go mountain. Ataway!’ Frosty always wanted us to feel like they are worth so