A teenaged boy walked slowly to the car after a recent football practice just outside of Sarasota, Fla. His mentor, Tim Frost, was waiting, ready to have a stern chat.
“He gave an excuse about something and I gave him the benefit of the doubt,” Frost, a Youngstown-native said. “It may not have been a pressing issue, but it was important. That’s his word. I show respect by trusting someone.
“If you have the mind set that you can’t trust anyone in life, you may miss out on some great opportunities.”
Frost, an East High student until its closing in 1998 and graduate of Ursuline High, has been a resident of the Sunshine State for the last few years. But he learned his trusting attributes from playing football in the north.
Being looked at by schools such as Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame and Maryland during his junior year at East, it was an official visit to West Virginia that sold him on his college decision.
A last-second win by the Mountaineers over Donovan McNabb-led Syracuse did the trick.
“The place erupted,” Frost said. “It was crazy. I was sitting up in a box with other recruits and I said that I want to come here, no doubt. I want to be a part of this program and to play in front of crowds like this.”
At first, it didn’t seem possible.
“My grades weren’t the best and I wasn’t eligible for a scholarship my first year,” he said. “Coach Don Nehlen made a promise to me, that if I came there he’d give me a scholarship in my second year. He was a man of his word.”
A few years later, another coach promised Frost a spot and also delivered on his word.
Former YSU coach Jon Heacock gave Frost a spot on his staff once he completed his degree in 2007.
“Again, he held out for me,” Frost said. “I’ve been really blessed in many situations.”
It hasn’t come without adversity.
First, it was East High closing (“A very tough thing to accept”). Then it was Nehlen retiring. Later, it was misinterpretations with Rich Rodriguez.
Finally, it was a knee injury.
Frost, a 6-foot-4, 265-pound tight end caught three passes in 2000, his first year at WVU. Rodriguez took over the program in 2001 — Frost caught just one pass that season.
“It was a very tough year,” he said. “Coach Rodriguez came in with a different mentality and a different philosophy than what coach Nehlen had. That transition was tough because they didn’t use a tight end. Plus, him and I did not see eye-to-eye. He was trying to clean the ship.
“Instead of sucking it up, I let his personality get the best of me and I ended up leaving.”
Against Western Kentucky in 2002, Frost blew out his knee while laying a block. It was his second game as a Penguin.
“I was in denial for a long time,” he said, “probably about five years.”
Frost’s playing days weren’t quite over as he had an extended stint with the Albany Conquest and the now-defunct Mahoning Valley Thunder in the Arena Football 2 league. He made $250 a game.
After four years as an Ursuline assistant, he was offered a job on Heacock’s staff the day he graduated from YSU in the summer of 2007. Yet, after a year he moved on.
“The X’s and O’s in coaching were cool,” Frost said. “I just wanted to have a deeper basis with kids and develop the character of the players. Not be biased. I want them to succeed.”
So he moved to Florida with a close friend. Developed relationships down there. Now, he’s doing what he believes he was meant to do.
“Growing up in Youngstown, 60-70 young men that I knew had a lot of potential and a lot going for themselves,” Frost said. “They were just murdered in the streets. Or, they ended up in jail or really got involved with the wrong and bad things. I’m doing my best to make a positive change in the lives of young men. To balance things on and off the field.”
He owns Keepers Hearts Inc. With the tag line “Challenging Others and Changing Hearts,” Frost is a life-coach of sorts and his mission is to initiate the C.H.A.N.G.E factor in his young clients.
“Communication. Humility. Nutrition. Attitude. Nutrition. Goals and Education,” Frost said. “Those components are all about what I went through and I failed at those things at one time in my life.”
Frost returns home about three times a year — always in Autumn — for football games.
“It’s when my wife [LeShawn] gives me a little break,” he said, laughing.
He was most recently at the East-Ursuline game to open the new Rayen Stadium.
“Everyone came out,” he said. “I had seen people that I hadn’t seen in years. It was a City Series atmosphere that none of us have seen in years. It was a really interested crowd and I thought the support was overwhelming.”
Although football is in the rearview mirror, Frost says the greatest reward is making a difference.
“I take it seriously,” he said. “I’m definitely where I’m supposed to be in this field.”