WOOD RIVER — Scott Frost was back with the old gang, some of whom joined him at the podium to sing the Wood River school song.
The Husker football coach took a few questions from the audience at the end of the Scott Frost Welcome Home Tailgate party Tuesday night. One of the questioners asked Frost if he still knew the Wood River school song.
Frost obviously had trouble remembering the fight song. So, at his invitation, six of his high school buddies joined him to sing the song.
“I’m sorry for that,” he said when they were done.
Close to 500 people turned out for the event, which was held at Babel’s Barn. Frost was joined at the party by his parents, Larry and Carol.
During his talk, Frost mentioned the names of many high school friends he spotted in the audience, using nicknames for many of them.
On a tour of the town Tuesday afternoon, he was impressed by the improvements at the high school.
Several times, Frost gave a hard time to the evening’s emcee, Derek Apfel. Frost said the weight room was improved after Apfel graduated, which made sense to him.
“It is obvious to me that he hasn’t ever spent any time in the weight room,” Frost said of his old teammate.
He also said it makes sense that Apfel is in the funeral home business.
“Dead people are the only ones who can sit still long enough to get through his jokes,” Frost said.
In introducing Frost, Apfel said that the Wood River grad hasn’t changed.
“It’s crazy,” Frost said. “I’m the head coach for the University of Nebraska, (but) when I come back here I feel like I’m just Scott, and that feels good.”
He mentioned there were many people in the room who he considers lifelong friends.
“It’s just good to be back,” Frost said.
He said the town looks good. He wished Wood River had an aquatic center when he was in high school.
Frost recalled going fishing and raccoon hunting when he was a kid.
One thing that has changed: “Are there more Zavalas here now than there were then?” he said. “You guys are multiplying like gremlins. It’s a good thing there isn’t a Zavala season around here. Joe Jack would have killed all of you.”
At that point, he acknowledged Jack, a retired adviser, in the audience. He also mentioned that Peggy Heise is still teaching at the school.
Frost said he’d like to get back to Wood River more often in the future.
The evening was a fundraiser for the Stick Creek Kids Child Development Center, which is planned for Wood River.
Frost said the two people he looks up to most in the coaching profession are Tom Osborne and Tony Dungy. In retirement, both men are working hard at strengthening families.
In dealing with athletes, Frost regularly sees young men who were raised without a father in the house. Students who were raised with a father around handle things better, he said.
Young people need positive role models, Frost said.
Child care centers are best built at the local level, he added.
Frost said he hopes the child development center will help not only kids today, but also a future generation “that hopefully loves Wood River as much as we do.”
He talked about his parents, saying they “did a lot for this town, just like they did for me.”
Frost said he is grateful to his parents for “what they did for me” and “for bringing me to Wood River.”
He also talked about the Cornhuskers.
“I can promise you that good things are coming, and we’re moving in a really good direction,” Frost said.
One member of the audience asked how he likes being a dad. He said he waited a long time to get started. “But it’s the greatest thing I’ve done in my life.”
Wood River is raising $2 million to create the Stick Creek Kids Child Development Center. The drive has crossed the $1.3 million mark.