If you played high school sports in Delaware in the last half of the 20th Century and the first decade of the 21st, there’s a good chance that, at one time or another, you were coached by Vinnie Scott.
In fact, it might be easier to list the places the Delaware Sports Hall-of-Famer didn’t coach than the places where he did. Scott – who died last week at the age of 78 – was a high school sports lifer who taught his players about life as much as he did about sports.
Scott started that long journey in the late 1950s as a four-sport star at Salesianum School – football, basketball, track and baseball. It’s impossible to imagine Scott being like so many athletes today who focus on one sport and play it year-round. That would have driven him crazy, because Scott loved all sports and excelled in all of them.
He later played football at the University of Maryland in the defensive backfield, and he was also a standout kicker – in 1959, Scott became just the second college player to kick three field goals in a game and one of them, a 48-yarder, was an ACC record that stood for 20 years.
Scott had a brief fling in the NFL, with the Baltimore Colts and Washington Redskins, but then he took his first steps on his real career path – which would prove to be a long and winding road – when he joined the faculty at Salesianum in 1961 as a teacher and a coach.
Those were the first steps and there were many more to follow. For the next 45 years he served as a head coach and/or assistant coach in basketball, football, swimming and baseball for six different schools – Sallies, Conrad, Glasgow, McKean, Delcastle and St. Mark’s, where he had his longest stint, 13 years.
Scott began his coaching career in an era dominated by coaches who are now legendary, including Bill Cole, Bob Hoffman, Joe Hemphill, Larry Wheeler, Vince Filliben, Marty Apostolico and Bob Colburn.
And Scott earned his legendary status the same way those other coaches did – with decades of dedication. Overworked, underpaid and often underappreciated, those old-time coaches lived the life they loved and they loved the life they led.
Just imagine all of the young souls Scott touched in his 45 years as a coach and teacher. That’s why Vinnie Scott is in the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame and the Delaware Legends Basketball Hall of Fame. He won a lot of games and his share of championships, but it’s those young lives that mattered the most to him. Thousands of boys became better men because of his leadership and example, and that’s a legacy with which anybody would be proud.
A Celebration of Life for Vinnie Scott will be held on Saturday, Oct. 21 at the Chase Center at the Wilmington Riverfront, starting at 10 a.m. And you can bet that many of the celebrants/mourners who attend were coached by him. They’ll have played different sports and attended different schools, but they all have one thing in common – they were coached by one of the best the state has ever known.