Bob Scott Retires From Hopkins Athletics After 41 Years 'We've All Been Part of the Team' Mike Field --------------- Staff Writer "After 41 years as a Blue Jay athlete, coach and athletic director, Bob Scott takes his spikes--and thousands of memories-- into retirement." Bob Scott likes to tell a story about the Hopkins varsity football teams in the years 1953 to '56. John Bridgers--who would eventually end up a hall-of-famer for his coaching skills--was guiding the Blue Jays through a series of less than spectacular seasons. "They were 2-6 the first three years, and 4-3-1 the last," says Scott, who was coaching the freshman football team and acting as a varsity scout in those days. "John Bridgers was building his team, but you certainly wouldn't call him successful in the wins and losses at that time." And yet, when the Athletic Department hosted a special reunion of those teams as a way of honoring Bridgers several years ago, about 40 former players returned. "All of these guys came back for this party," recalls Scott, "and you'd have thought they were 8-0 one year, 7-1, at worst 6-2. You'd have thought that these guys were world-beaters." In fact, they did considerably more losing than winning on the gridiron, but years later, "the wins and losses didn't count at all," Scott says. "It was the camaraderie that existed among these people that really mattered." As Bob Scott prepares to leave Hopkins after 41 years of service--the last 22 of which he served as the university's athletic director--it is stories like that which come to mind when he is asked what the past four decades have been about. Winning? Sure, winning is important, and Scott departs with a strong record of accomplishment in that regard. As the head coach of the Blue Jays men's lacrosse team from 1955 to 1974 Scott won seven national championships, including the NCAA in his final year. As athletic director, Scott assembled a coaching staff that has won more than 60 percent of its contests over the past five years. Men's lacrosse, fencing, swimming, baseball and basketball have all recently won league or conference championships, and the men's soccer team advanced all the way to the NCAA championship game. Women's athletics, although considerably newer to the Homewood campus, have done exceptionally well since the first women's varsity teams (fencing, tennis and swimming) were introduced in 1973. Today there are 13 women's varsity teams, with swimming, lacrosse and field hockey each capturing conference titles in recent years and going on to distinguish themselves in NCAA championship competition. The women's basketball program has also emerged as one of the nation's elites, as the Blue Jays advanced all the way to the "Sweet Sixteen" in last year's tournament. But it's not the winning that concerns Scott. "As long as you provide good leadership with good coaches the winning will take care of itself," he says. Rather, it is the teamwork, cooperation and mutual respect arising from the discipline of athletics that he believes make the programs so valuable to students--and to the university. "Athletics does so much for people who are involved," he says. "I've got a bunch of letters from people tied in with my retirement, and the theme of how important it was to them in their college experience to play on a team comes out again and again. The most meaningful thing to them--and these are letters from extremely successful surgeons and business people and [people from] all walks of life--is not what they got in the classroom, but what they got on the athletic field." Scott is no stranger to that experience. An outstanding athlete himself, he arrived as a freshman at Hopkins in 1954 with a reputation for athletic accomplishment at Baltimore's Forest Park High School. In his college career he played football and lacrosse for the Blue Jays, eventually serving as team captain for both sports. In his senior year he earned honorable mention All-America honors and was chosen captain of the South All-Stars in that year's North-South Lacrosse Classic. He received the Penniman Award for outstanding play as a midfielder and at graduation was awarded the Barton Cup for outstanding student leadership. A member of ROTC while in school, after graduation Scott left Baltimore for a two-year stint in the Army. He was stationed at Elgin Air Force Base, where he served as an instructor in the Army's ranger swamp training program. There, he came in contact with the legendary Arthur "Bull" Simons, whose exploits freeing American business personnel in Iran would one day be chronicled in the best-selling book On Wings of Eagles. "Just being around that guy was a thrill," says Scott of his former camp commander. "It was a terrific opportunity for me to be exposed to ranger training and to men like Art Simons." The Army, however, was not where Bob Scott's heart truly lay. He knew he wanted to coach lacrosse, and he figured the best way to set about it was to send out some letters to local high schools asking for a job. But before the first letter was ever sent, Scott received a call from Marshall Turner, then athletic director of Hopkins, inviting him to take over as head coach of Hopkins lacrosse just as soon as he was out of the Army. "I was, needless to say, stunned," says Scott, recalling his telephone conversation with Turner. "Here was this 23-year-old greenhorn lieutenant being offered the job opportunity of a lifetime." He accepted the offer, and soon found himself back in Baltimore, back at Hopkins, coaching varsity lacrosse--and freshman football and basketball. In those days coaches were typically responsible for two or more sports that changed with the seasons. "I was as involved, interested, fired-up coaching freshman football as I was when the lacrosse season began," he says. "In those days, in the fall it was football, in the winter it was basketball and in the spring it was lacrosse. It wasn't what it is today, with the year-round involvement in fall lacrosse, winter weight training and they start around the first of February with a game as early as March 3." All that has changed in the years since then, and today coaches are rarely asked to oversee more than one sport. "Now there's summer league, and recruiting and going to summer camps-- all of that has made it a year-round thing," Scott says. "In my day it was a wonderful experience to have a group of football kids and get wrapped up in that. I really didn't start the lacrosse stuff until the middle of basketball season. It wasn't the year-round specialization. Kids would play two sports, usually a fall and a spring sport. Half of our lacrosse team played on the football team. It was each sport in its season and it was great fun." Although an increasing degree of specialization means fewer and fewer college athletes can compete in more than one varsity sport, Hopkins' Division III athletic program is still an adjunct to campus life, rather than its central focus, and that is precisely where Scott believes it should remain. "The professionalism that exists at the Division I level has not percolated down to Division III," he says. "The Division III level is the healthiest of the levels of intercollegiate athletics. Our people play for the sheer enjoyment of it. Our coaches don't require three night meetings a week and so on. We work as hard on the field, and our coaches are just as serious, but the emphasis on money running the whole show isn't there." As an athletic director, Scott believes his life was made simpler--purer almost--by the university's commitment to amateur athletics: "That Division I stuff, you've got to win to bring the money in. Thank goodness Division III is, without question, what athletics should be: kids playing, people who want to watch come and watch it, normally there's no charge in Division III. It's just a healthy situation. I really feel good that I never had to worry about finances as an athletic director because we're budgeted the same way as the Chemistry or Physics Department. That's the way to go, for sure." The emphasis on playing rather than winning allowed Scott the opportunity of making many friends during his four decades at Hopkins. On June 10 more than 730 of them showed up for a farewell banquet held at the Hunt Valley Marriott. ("When you've been around 41 years you get to know a lot of people," says Scott modestly.) It was a long night full of speeches and remembrances and no fewer than nine speakers rose to say how Bob Scott had touched their lives for the better. For all that, it is perhaps surprising--or perhaps not--what Scott finds most important about all the fuss. "The response that has been most important hasn't come from the heroes," he says. "It's been the subs, the last man on the bench, the managers and others who have said they were made to feel as important and as much a part of the team as the All-Americans. I really feel good that our people have made everyone feel part of the team. They think back on their time with warm feelings and that's important to me. That's what athletics is all about."
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