The local area sports scene lost one of its longest-serving coaches this week, and the Old Coach lost one of his favorite heroes. Every track and field coach from Washington and Frederick counties — and many from around the state — had either been touched by or were familiar with former long-time Boonsboro coach and athletic director Dwight Scott, whom most affectionately called “Scotty.”
He died Wednesday at age 87.
Scotty was born and raised in Arlington, Virginia, where he graduated from high school; he then attended Western Maryland College (now McDaniel) on an ROTC scholarship. He was a standout football player and also ran track, playing at a time when Western Maryland was a national power in football. He served in the military as an artillery officer before getting his first teaching job at Boonsboro High School. He started the football program at the Washington County school and was actively involved in either coaching or scouting for the Warriors for well over 50 years.
Starting a football program from scratch was a challenge in his early years at Boonsboro, but in time he built the program from the ground up and eventually produced several championship teams. He was instrumental in forming the Bi-State League that was composed of nearby smaller classification schools from Maryland and West Virginia. His teams were known for excellent fundamentals and their hard-nosed play. Scotty had a way of always getting the most out of the talent on his rosters. He could be considered an advocate of demonstrating the philosophy of “tough love.”
Much of my contact with Scotty over the years was because our teams competed against one another in indoor and outdoor track and field. His track and field teams were always well-coached in every event, and it was evident that his athletes were highly motivated. Even though Boonsboro was one of the smaller schools in the area, it always had quality and depth throughout its lineup. The Warriors won numerous state championships under his tutelage and individual state champions abounded in a variety of events.
In my opinion, the area’s greatest track and field coaches over the past 50 years have been those individuals who emphasized scoring in all 18 events in a meet (outdoors). They are well versed in the latest techniques and training for each type of skill, whether the sprint, middle-distance or distance running events, the weight events (shot and discus), or the jumping events (high, long, triple jumps and pole vault). Scotty could teach it all.
What made Scotty so special as a coach, however, was his interaction with his athletes, both male and female. He was tough yet understanding. He was a disciplinarian, yet paternal. He could assess athletes’ abilities and place them in the event or events where they would experience the most success and be able to help the team the most. The most important thing: He cared about his athletes as people. He was what I like to call “old school.” He had a set of principles that guided his life, and he passed those on to the young men and women he worked with. He was encouraging and supportive. Because he had “been there, done that,” he could offer sage advice about sports and life.
Even though Scotty had retired from teaching years ago, he continued to coach at Boonsboro and later as an assistant track coach at Hood College. He also remained active in football by breaking down film in helping to scout Boonsboro opponents each week. He could be seen at track meets up until recently, either helping to officiate or working with individuals in perfecting their skills. It is safe to say that coaching was his life.
I have mentioned in a previous column that retired coaches from Washington, Frederick and Carroll counties meet once a month for breakfast and to tell coaching stories from days gone by. Until recently, Scotty was a regular attendee, always sharing some of his wit and wisdom with his compatriots. Although in his 80s, he could still remember events in great detail from long ago. And though his body was showing the results of many decades exposed to the elements of so many practices out in all kinds of weather, his mind was still sharp as ever.
As a coaching peer, I always found Scotty emphasizing good sportsmanship and respect for everyone that he came in contact with. He would often go into an opponent’s locker room after a football game and congratulate the other team on their play. He was quick to share his knowledge with athletes and coaches from other teams because he wanted to see every athlete reach his or her potential. That’s just the way he was.
So long, Scotty. You were a true gentleman, a class act, a great coach, a friend.