I grew up in Fresno. I began running seriously in 7th grade at Hamilton Jr High School--The Hurricanes. Up until that time I had tried baseball and soccer. I was either the worst person on a good team or the best person on a terrible team. I once played on a soccer team that held the Fresno City record (pretty impressive right?) for the most goals scored against. We were out-scored that season 121-1. I digress...I began running at Hamilton. I remember having to stop and walk during my first race. I finished that race as the 9th runner on the 7th grade team. I improved and climbed up the team ladder and ultimately I finish 8th out of 146 7th graders in the city and ran 11:56 for 2 miles. Team wise we won the City championship and I felt like I was a contributing part of something great.
|1976 Fresno Road Race, my first 6miler 43:15|
|1979 (9th grade) Kern Relays 3200m--10:42|
By 9th grade we were allowed to run the 3200m and that became my primary event, although I often doubled back in the 1600m (the distance races were in a different order --800m then 3200m then 1600m) and frequently ran the third leg of our 4X400. We had a great coach, Joe Herzog who was a mentor to me.
After 9th grade I completed Hamilton and moved to Fresno High School (a 3 year HS at the time). I was immediately the #3 man on the varsity XC team that placed 11th in the section that year (I was 40th over all (there were no separate divisions back then). I put in even more miles on weekends and through the summer. At one point I topped 2000 miles in a calendar year and competed in 92 different races. I improved even more but began to get burned out.
|1979 10th grade Central Section Championship meet|
In track I was running mostly the 3200m but just couldn't get under the 10 min mark. It was very frustrating. For the championship meets I moved to the 1600m, feeling that I had a better chance to advance. In 11th grade I placed third in the North Area section qualifying meet and ultimately placed 6th in the Central Section in the 1600m (4:28). The next year I was 4th in the Central Section (4:27) and advanced to the California State meet when one of the competitors in front of me opted to concentrate on the 3200m.
|1981 11th grade North Area 1600m|
I went to Chico State, which has an amazing XC program now but back then it was mediocre at best. I showed up out of shape and overwhelmed by college. The team was mostly seniors and I never really belonged. I struggled to improve my times and finish the season. I was so burned out that I completely skipped track. The next year I knew better what to expect and I showed up in better shape. I finished in the top four in most of the races and finally broke ten min for the 2mi (as a split time in the 6mi races). My best time was 31:12 in the 10K. At the end of the season our coach told us that the university was disbanding the XC and track programs. I was devastated, but it did allow me the time to actually salvage my degree in Chemistry and graduate. I never ran competitively again.
|the 1983 Chico State XC team|
What I haven't said is that Coach Herzog made me love running. He gave me something to belong to. Running had given a weak, lonely little boy the confidence to succeed in life. So when I entered college I had my sights set on becoming a teacher and a XC and track coach.
Well things don't always work out how you plan. I got hired as a teacher at Argus Continuation HS. Over the years I was asked to coach at Ceres HS, Downey HS, Beyer, and Davis. But I was busy with my students at Argus. I coached basketball, softball, and volleyball at different points at Argus. I forgot about that desire to coach XC.
My daughter grew and went out for track in 7th grade. I began trying to get back into shape and running with her. I started remembering my original dreams.
She went to Downey for HS and I continued trying to run with her but I got injured over and over again. It was frustrating and depressing. This was also when I found this Blog and met its creator, Ruben Esparza. Ruben and I shared a passion for the sport and both understood how little recognition these athletes are given.
My daughter's sophomore year I had the opportunity to help coach the Downey XC team. It was a huge learning experience. The HS athletes just weren't as dedicated as I remembered being. I made many mistakes in dealing with teenage athletes--but I did learn. Later that year I was the distance coach on the track team. The next year I was "bumped" from coaching because I didn't work at Downey. I was devastated. I so wanted to stay connected to the sport now that my original dreams were rekindled. Ruben began allowing me to post to his blog. I began taking photos at the meets of athletes on other teams and posting them of Facebook. As Ruben encountered some personal issues in his own life I posted more and more to the blog. Ultimately I began to cover all of the Stanislaus County schools and runners in more earnest.
This past track season alone I took well over 12,000 photos. I posted over 5400 of them into 28 albums. There were some very hot long dusty afternoons and some freezing cold rainy days...I wouldn't have changed one minute of any of it.
If you read this far you deserve your own medal. Over the years I see and photograph some athletes hundreds of times. I cheer for most and scream at some. I feel like I know them or at least what they are going through as a runner. I feel every step in my heart. Many athletes ignore me, some will nod to me or smile, and some come up and talk to me and thank me for the photos and encouragement. Some I truly miss after track when they graduate, and I am eager to see that next group of young faces as XC begins.
As a parent or an athlete, feel free to nod, smile, or say hey (thank yous are always appreciated) when you see me or hear me screaming.
|Screamin Scott/ StanCo Distance|