Mel Tjeerdsma looks back on the 17 years he spent with Scott Bostwick

MARYVILLE, Missouri - Scott Bostwick learned for 17 years under Division II Hall of Fame Coach Mel Tjeerdsma at Northwest Missouri State as his defensive coordinator.

When Tjeerdsma retired in December, it didn't take the university long to name Bostwick as his replacement.

Tjeerdsma had only fond memories on Sunday of Bostwick, who died of an apparent heart attack while mowing his lawn earlier in the day.

Tjeerdmsa joined Northwest Athletic Director Wren Baker and other Bearcat coaches at a news conference Sunday night to discuss Bostwick's passing and look back at the 17 years he spent in Maryville.

RELATED | Listen to the news conference here

"He was not an ego guy. All he wanted was for us to be successful," Tjeerdsma told Sports Radio 810's Jay Brinkley, host of 3 Guys in a Garage, after the news conference. "That meant a lot to me – that helped our program immensely."

But even though their careers at Northwest began in the same year, the two didn't even know each other before they joined forces in Bearcat Country.

"Until the day before I hired him, I didn't know who he was," Tjeerdsma said. "After I met him, I was excited about having him."

Bostwick was recommended by Jim Svoboda, who Tjeerdsma had coached in high school and college and had hired as his offensive coordinator.

"After I met him, I was excited about having him," Tjeerdsma said.

The three would go on to see many successes, but it wasn't immediate. The Bearcats went 0-11 in 1994, but turned things around quickly.

A 6-5 record in 1995 led to five consecutive Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association titles from 1996-2000, including national titles in 1998 and 1999.

Svoboda, who now coaches Northwest rival Central Missouri, moved on after the 2000 season, but Bostwick stayed in Maryville, leading the Bearcats to seven more conference crowns, five more championship game appearances and the 2009 national title.

"There's no way to ever be prepared for anything like this," Tjeerdsma said. "You have to have strength, you have to have faith, and that's what carries you on.

"We're a family," Tjeerdsma said. "He's got a strong family, but the Bearcat family, there's a lot of strength there."

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