For the first time in 18 years, Scott Frost was back in Wood River.
On Tuesday, April 23, Frost returned to his hometown for a “Welcome Home Tailgate” at Babel’s Barn. The night served as a fundraiser for the construction of the Stick Creek Kids Child Development Center. It needs $2 million. They have raised $1.3 million so far.
The Husker head coach was the keynote speaker at the event. Around 7 p.m., he took to the stage to share stories from back when he was a high schooler, tease a guy who was a senior when he was a freshman because Frost has the caché now, and talk about the people who helped shape his life.
“It’s crazy, everywhere I go I feel like I’m the head football coach at Nebraska,” Frost said that night. “I feel like when I come back around here, I’m just Scott, and that feels good.”
But the real reunion happened about 90 minutes before he stepped in front of the 500 gathered at Babel’s.
Aub Boucher, the activities director at Wood River High School, Frost’s alma mater, got a call from a buddy Tuesday afternoon. Frost was going to be in town; get back up to the school and give him a tour.
So at 5:30, Boucher met Frost and a few other teammates for a 45-minute walk-through of the place he hasn’t ever left.
Right when you walk in the school, there’s a giant ring hanging in the center of the foyer, adorned with school records in every sport. Frost’s name is all over the place.
There’s a trophy case with pictures from Frost’s high school days, a plaque commemorating his Gatorade Player of the Year honor in 1992, another for a Nebraska High School Male Athlete of the year from 1993, an Old Spice Player of the Month honor and several more. Frost took a picture with it before moving on. His Wood River No. 7 jersey is hung up above a plaque commemorating his Husker national championship, too.
In a hallway connecting the school’s two gyms, there are team pictures hanging from all the squads who reached state. Frost’s basketball team has a picture hanging in that hallway. He remembered the names of his teammates on the court as well.
They passed by old classrooms and Frost pointed out what he learned in each.
They walked through the old gym Frost used to play in and the old locker room he used to dress in. Frost pointed out where his used to be. He saw the new gym, too, complete with a tour of the remodeled weight room.
“The weight room he loved,” Boucher said. “He was telling us where the squat rack and stuff was.”
After about 45 minutes, Boucher suggested they go see the football field. The school put in new goalposts two years ago and Frost wanted to see how it looked.
So they walked outside and stood on the track surrounding the field. With three former teammates—Steve Spiehs, Frost’s left tackle, Eric Nielsen (Plug), Frost’s left guard, and Matt Gideon, one of Frost’s wideouts—they snapped a picture.
“The field where it all started,” Spiehs said in a text.
Boucher just sat back and watched the four reminisce. “I felt like the kid in the candy store,” he said. They talked about old times. Frost used to work on the Spiehs’ family farm when he first moved to town. He helped Nielsen move haybales on his family farm, too. Of course, they also talked about football. Frost remembered playing Battle Creek in the playoffs his last two years in school.
Frost asked about the school. About changes. About how things were going. Not Nebraska’s football coach. A Wood River alum.
“He had a glow in his eye and a big smile,” Boucher said. “Probably shook my hand five or six times and said thanks. He was really appreciative of the tour.”
After the walk-through, after the dinner, Frost hung around to take pictures. He saw people he hadn’t seen in almost two decades.
“He let his guard down a little bit, smiled a lot,” Boucher said. “He just loved it. I thought it was great. … He’s a genuine Nebraskan. He’s the best thing for us since [Tom] Osborne. I’m telling ya.”