1) What sports did you play in your youth? Highlights and accomplishments?
I played football, wrestling, and track in high school. In football, I was the team’s rushing leader, in wrestling the Northern Section runner-up, and in track I was a State CIF finalist in the pole vault. I went on to compete at Chico State in the pole vault and was a two-time NCAA Division II Nationals qualifier.
2) Who were the coaches that had the biggest impact on you and what did you learn from them?
My high school track coach, Norm MacKenzie hosted the 1972 California State Meet in Oroville. He and I still work together as commissioner and chairman of track and cross country in the Northern Section.
3) What led you into teaching and coaching? What was your first experience coaching? What did you learn from that experience?
I loved competing in athletics and wanted to figure out a way to continue that experience for myself, but to also pass along my passion for track to others. I was lucky enough to be hired as the head track coach at Chico Sr. High School immediately after college graduation. I learned about the organizational part of coaching, and the team aspects of track and field. Prior to that experience, I had seen track as an individual sport, but after coaching the first year at Chico High, I saw a whole other side of track and field. Developing well rounded teams, plotting scoring strategies, and teaching kids to compete for more than just themselves really excited me.
4) How long have you been at West Valley High School? What else do you at the school aside from coaching XC and TF?
I am finishing 31 years at West Valley. The school was only two years old when I arrived. I am also the athletic director and activity director at West Valley.
5) During your tenure at West Valley HS, what are some of your proudest achievements and top performances?
My proudest moment in coaching was seeing Nicole Teter win the California State 800 title in 1991. She and I had worked so hard for four years together, and to see this girl from a little hick town and with challenges off the track to win the state meet was an amazing moment for both of us.
6) Who have been your coaching mentors? What have you learned from your fellow coaches? What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
I have never been an assistant coach, so my coaching mentors have always been observations of other coaches from afar. In my early coaching days, I observed what my predecessor, Chuck Sheley had done at Chico High School. Since then, I have had two long-time assistant coaches at West Valley, Bill Elliott and Steve Main whom I greatly respect. We are constantly bouncing ideas off each other.
7) From your perspective, what are the keys to being a successful cross country runner?
Consistency. For a distance runner to be successful, they must be patient, train consistently year round, and be tough mentally in races.
8) During your coaching tenure, what has changed the most in terms of coaching duties and in terms of training?
I don’t know if much has changed in terms of coaching duties. As always, the key to coaching is being a motivator. Kids have more distractions now days. In our area, club volleyball, club basketball, club soccer, etc. are more prevalent than they used to be, and it is more difficult to get track athletes to commit to weekend invitationals. However, that is where the motivational part of coaching comes in. It is our job to persuade the athletes that what we are doing is in the best interest of the athlete.
9) What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of coaching in the Northern Section?
I don’t believe there are quite as many distractions from training in the Northern Section’s rural area as in the cities. For distance runners, we have many trails and open space in which to train. However, our area is very hot and dry during the cross country months, which makes training more difficult. The other disadvantage is the distances we must travel to get good competition.
10) If you could make any changes to either XC and/or TF in California, what would those changes be?
I was a proponent several years ago of dividing our State Track and Field Championships into divisions. I have seen the tremendous success of our 5 division State Cross Country Championships, and think that track could do the same. More participants from all the corners of our state advancing to the State Track Championships would help promote our sport. The elite few have plenty of post-season invitationals where they can compete against one another for bragging rights.
11) What advice would you give a young coach with aspirations of being a successful xc and/or track and field coach?
Be passionate about what you do. Pass that passion on to your athletes. I have always believed that if you worked harder than the other guy, you will come out on top in the long run.
Thank you very much for your time Scott! AJC