Great Scott: Eagle Valley legend retires
Twenty-eight years ago, Dave Scott and his new bride Susan signed their teachingcoaching contracts at Eagle Valley High School. They were fresh out of college and thrilled to hit the classrooms and the courts.
Nearly three decades later, the Scott’s have become an institution at EVHS. Dave has supervised hundreds of shop projects, conducted countless court drills, juggled a myriad sports schedules and touched thousands of lives. While Susan will continue teaching next fall, Dave will retire from the EVHS hallways where he spent his entire educational career.
Dave Scott grew up in Denver and played high school basketball at George Washington. He went on to Fort Lewis College as a business major. But on a fateful trip home from college after graduation, he broke the news to his banker father that he’d changed his professional goals.
“I told him I couldn’t see myself in a three-piece suit with a tie on,” Scott says.
He then enrolled at the University of Southern Colorado to earn his teaching degree, a decision that forever changed his professiona, and personal life. At Southern Colorado, he met Susan in a Human Growth and Development class. After graduation, the pair landed jobs at EVHS.
Other new EVHS teachers that year included Randy Rohweder and John Ramunno.
“Susan and I were so excited. We both got jobs that were in our fields and both had coaching tied to them,” Scott recalls.
In Dave’s case, the assignments included teaching shop at EVHS and Eagle Valley Middle School; and serving as head basketball coach, assistant football coach and middle school track coach.
“The middle school had just opened. I showed up at the EVMS shop and all that was there was four extension cords hanging from the ceiling. I had to order all the tools and hope they got there before the kids did,” Scott recalls.
On the coaching side, Scott remembers vividly that his boss, then-Principal Wally Birlew, had a simple directive: Always beat Battle Mountain.
The principal’s directive proved challenging. Heading out to the football field the first day of practice, Scott ran into a bunch of bloody boys who had been engaged in a rock fight.
“We’re here to play football,” the bloodied boys announced.
Scott wondered what he was in for.
Then were was the matter of Scott’s young, hot courtside temper.
“That first year coaching basketball, I got 18 technical fouls. I made Bobby Knight look like a choirboy,” remembers Scott, ruefully. Athletic Director Pete Nolan backed him up. “He told me there was nothing wrong with getting a technical ” but I had to make sure to make it count.”
Scott eventually learned that lesson. The EVHS basketball program was a powerhouse during the Scott coaching years, including a 1985 undefeated season capped by a state championship.
“Any time you win a state championship, that is a big accomplishment,” says Scott. “We had some good players, but we didn’t have a lot of stars. We played team ball and we had a fun team to watch. That team averaged 82 point per game.”
Many of those state champs returned to town this week to share their memories of Coach Scott during his retirement party May 20. They spoke about learning more than how to play basketball. They talked about learning values and life lessons, and of forging life-long friendships.
Chris Fedrizzi, a former student who was on that state championship team, recalls one of Scott’s game-winning strategies.
“When we were playing, Hodgie (Rich Rodriguez) scored more points than I did. But not everyone knows why. He was a better free throw shooter than I was. So when I would get fouled, Dave would say ‘Make ’em both, Hodgie,’ and send him to the line. I’m sure Hodgie shot four to six free throws a game for me.” says Fedrizzi.
While Scott compiled an impressive record during his coaching years ” 199 wins and 88 losses “he counts student successes as his biggest triumph.
“People out in the world don’t know how much time coaching and teaching takes. You have to love the sport you are involved in; and you have to love working with the kids,” Scott said. “Success of kids is a great thing to see. It’s great to think that you helped make them who they are.”
Ranette Johnson recalls a memorable girl’s soccer game, when Scott, the basketball man, ended up filling in for a sick coach. It was the big match against Battle Mountain. Eagle Valley was up by one goal, with three minutes left in the game.
“Dave tried to call a time out,” recalls Johnson. The soccer girls all yelled to him, saying “You can’t call a time out in soccer!” Scott, in his own defense, points out that the Eagle Valley girls went on to win the game, and it was a milestone ” his 200th win as an EVHS coach.
Scott carried his passion for sports into the classroom. In shop class, his students turned out professional quality cabinets and loads of presents for Toys for Tots. He launched the EVHS video production class. He embraced computer technology by putting students to work designing the home he eventually built up Gypsum Creek.
“We even did a scale model of the house so Susan could see what it would look like,” he recalls.
Under Scott’s leadership, the National Technology Education Association recognized EVHS with an award for an outstanding and innovative industrial technology program.
Scott’s biggest educational accomplishment was the Bio-Building ” a hydroponics and aquaculture lab. The building was designed and built by EVHS students.
Students grew plants and vegetables and raised more than 150,000 fish a year for the Colorado Division of Wildlife restocking program. The Bio-Building received several state and national honors. The Colorado Division of Wildlife recognized Scott as an outstanding educator and volunteer.
“The amount of learning that went on in that building was amazing,” Scott said. “It was great to see kids take ownership of what they were doing. As a teacher, you try to take them to a point and release them. Kids learn from failing and getting beat as well as from winning.”
Eight years ago, Scott left the classroom and the gym to take over as EVHS athletic director, following his mentor, Pete Nolan.
“If you want to become an athletic director and do it right, you need to do it the way Pete did it,” says Scott.
He worked at being patient with young coaches, and keeping tabs on students. The work was rewarding, but he missed being close to the kids.
Scott’s office at EVHS is dominated by a full-wall magnetic calendar that lays out the year’s activities. One glance at the chock-full schedule is all it takes to appreciate the challenge of scheduling games and practices for the school’s 19 sports and activities. “If everything is going right, people don’t see the work you do. But if something goes wrong, it comes straight at you,” Scott said.
Scott says his biggest disappointment at EVHS is that even though the community has grown, new residents aren’t trekking out to watch high school games. “Come watch a game and bring the kids,” he advises area residents, “It’s something that brings the community together, and it’s cheap entertainment. The community needs to support high school activities.”
Post-retirement, Scott expects to take in plenty of games. He notes his wife Susan is remaining on staff. “She loves what she’s doing and wants to keep with it,” he explains. Scott plans to support his wife in her work the way she has always supported him. “She’s been my partner, not only in life but in my job. She’s been my heart and soul all these years.”
While he knows it’s time to step away from EVHS, Scott says he isn’t really sure what he’ll do next. For now, Scott is telling friends he plans to hunt, fish and farm. Visiting son Blake, who is currently a golf pro in Las Vegas, and daughter Mariah, who is attending college at the University of North Carolina, is likely on the agenda.
“The 80 hour work weeks have caught up with me and for mental and health reasons, it’s a good time to step aside. But we are not ready for Sun City,” he concludes.
This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.