Every game day, Northwest football coach Rich Wright places a red hat decorated with the University’s signature green and white bearcat paw onto his head.
Sometimes sweat stains surround the cap’s surface. On other occasions, a crisp look stands out. The condition isn’t what matters, it’s what the hat stands for.
Defensive coordinator Scott Bostwick began wearing a red hat on the sideline early on in the 1998 season, when players were having a hard time getting the play call. It became a tradition.
“There’s so much little symbolism that is still around our program to this day that shows his presence,” Wright said.
Following coach Mel Tjeerdsma’s retirement in December 2010, Bostwick was named as the 18th head coach of Northwest football.
Six months later, tragedy struck. Bostwick passed away after suffering a heart attack on his front lawn. His memory lives on.
“The comment I always remember that Coach Bostwick said several times was ‘The big time is where you are at, and I have the greatest job in the world,’” Wright said. “He always came to work with that attitude.”
The Bearcats began their 2011 season with extra motivation to push them through. The team also established tributes for Bostwick. Several, including Wright wearing the red hat, still exist.
When Family Weekend arrives every year, the team spends time emphasizing Bostwick’s legacy.
This year, Wright chose to bring in four community members to discuss the impact Bostwick had on their lives.
“He had a genuineness about him that really resonated the people,” Wright said. “People in town, people back up in Omaha where he was from, he was just a really special man, and I was really blessed to have the opportunity to become good friends with him over the year.”
Northwest has worn a black adidas top every Family Day since 2011. It was a gift from Bostwick to the team during his first season as head coach.
The team also places a red Bearcat paw on its helmets, representing the passion Bostwick had for the program.
Bostwick’s signature will be included on the back bumper of the helmets during Saturday’s Family Weekend game. Coaches will also wear a hat that includes the signature. Both inscriptions will be in red.
“That’s something to symbolize the impact Scott had on this University and the football program,” football equipment manager Tucker Peve said.
Peve came up with the concept as a way to symbolize Bostwick’s character outside of the many existing traditions.
He had already extended similar gestures to the team’s full-time coaching staff this year. Peve gave the full-time coaching staff a replica of a sweatshirt Bostwick occasionally wore.
“I actually saw a photo of Scott with the sweatshirt on and how it said ‘S.B.,’” Peve said. “I thought well, that would kind of be neat.”
Peve had a few graphic films designed to match the concept before having the sweatshirts made.
He announced he had given each coach a sweatshirt in a Tweet Aug. 22.
“When Tucker presented that to the full-time staff, it was just pretty cool,” Wright said. “As a matter of fact, as I’m talking to you, I’m thinking of the picture that I always see of him in my mind of him wearing that sweatshirt.”
Wright also added his interactions with Bostwick as a graduate assistant in the early Mel Tjeerdsma era were a large part of what brought him back to the Northwest coaching staff.
“He was the real reason why I got back here in 2004,” Wright said. “He and his family, I have such a strong connection to his family, just the way he went about doing things.”