Nebraska football players on Thursday got to see their coach push himself as hard as he pushes them.
There is Scott Frost, descending the south rim of the Grand Canyon at 4 a.m. Over the next 13 hours, he and a group of military friends complete a 24-mile, rim-to-rim hike that includes a nearly 5,000-foot change in elevation. It is a potentially life-risking endeavor discouraged by Grand Canyon National Park officials.
An ESPN crew captured the highlights of the trek and condensed it into a 6-minute, 40-second feature as part of an episode of “Marty Smith’s America” that aired Thursday evening. The episode also includes the ESPN reporter roping cattle with Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher, touring France with Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and playing one-on-one basketball with Alabama coach Nick Saban.
Introductions for Frost’s May 22 hike begin at 3:18 a.m. Shortly thereafter the group is shown reading a sign warning that extreme heat and long distance make a one-day trip to the Colorado River and back inadvisable. It includes an animated image of a man vomiting on the trail.
“That looks like me,” the 43-year-old Frost quips. “(He’s) blond.”
The group’s leader is Eric Kapitulik, founder and CEO of The Program — a form of intense training and leadership-building run by former military personnel. It is a service Frost used the past two years at UCF and one he is bringing to Nebraska this week.
Frost said he and Kapitulik went to South Africa three years ago and got in cages with great white sharks. Five years ago they traversed seven mountain peaks and 20-some miles in one day in New Hampshire.
Said Frost: “That one whupped my (butt).”
In a lengthier interview with the Colorado River flowing behind him, Frost said this kind of challenge clears his mind and helps remind him of the beauty in the world (he had never been to the Grand Canyon before). He also talked about how having his first child last fall puts his work in perspective.
“I think it helps you as a coach,” Frost said. “It helps you realize that all the things you’re working for, they’re important but they’re not the No. 1 priority. And that kind of frees you up to relax and do your job even better.”
The segment ends with Frost — wearing a a long-sleeve black shirt with “Huskers football” in red across his chest — flexing, with fists even with his head.
“I think anytime you’re a leader you have to let your people see that you’re willing to do some of the things that they’re doing and work as hard as they’re doing,” Frost said. “A leader should probably never ask his team to do something that he’s not willing to do.”
You can view the entire segment by clicking here.