Steve Scott

Saegertown head coach Steve Scott (center) addresses fans during a ceremony to officially rename the Saegertown Junior-Senior High School gymnasium to the Steve Scott Gymnasium on Dec. 10, 2019. One of District 10 best coaches in any sport, Scott suddenly passed away on Friday morning leaving the Saegertown and area sport community in a state of shock and disbelief.

The release was shocking. The content even more so.

“It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of long-time coach, mentor, and friend Steve Scott,” read the very first line of the statement by Saegertown Junior/Senior High School Assistant Principal Kylene Koper on the PENNCREST School District website.

“Coach Scott has served our community as a girls’ basketball coach for thirty-four years. Last year we recognized Coach Scott’s commitment to our community by naming our gymnasium in his honor. Many will remember Coach Scott for his success on the court, but those who played for him will remember his compassion and the lessons learned both on and off the court,” it continued.

Koper closed the release with, “On behalf of Saegertown Schools and the PENNCREST School District, we extended our sincere condolences to the Scott family.”

The news was unreal to former players and rival coaches.

Fellow legend of the hardwood Mark Ruttenberg, who coached against Scott many times while the head coach at Conneaut Lake High School, needed a few seconds to process what he had heard. And even after, it took another moment before it completely sunk in.

“What a great man,” said Ruttenberg. “I got along with Steve as well, if not better, as any coach. Probably because (we had the same philosophy), how we coached and handled the girls. And we would talk before and after games about how the girls were doing in school and things

like that.”

Sarah (Cybulski) Krichbaum, a key member of the Lady Panthers team that made it all the way to the 1999-2000 Class A state finals, was just as stunned by the news.

“I still can’t believe he is gone,” said Krichbaum. “He was the type of coach and person you showed up every practice and game proud to play for. He taught us all as young women how to be competitive and to always work hard. I will always cherish the memories spent with Coach Scott and being a part of the Saegertown Lady Panthers.

“Some of my best memories and moments of my life revolves around him and the program he built.”

Building the program is actually just a small piece of the impact the 63-year-old Scott has had on the Saegertown and surrounding

community.

“Everybody lost and amazing man (Friday), said Dana Mason, the PENNCREST School District Athletic Director the last seven years. “Not only the basketball program, but the entire athletic community. He was always at volleyball games. He came to the soccer games. In fact, when Cambridge won the District 10 girls soccer title he came up and watch the end with me.”

But coaching, that was his passion. And there may not have been a better coach in this area. Yes, he had certain things he loved to do. But he wasn’t the type of person that could be painted into a box. He could adjust with the best of them even 34 years into his stellar career. It was a Steve Scott trait even when he took over the program.

“I remember when he took over,” said Ruttenberg. “The program was not doing so well. And he built that program from the bottom up. And they bought into it. And they would do anything for him. He was in it for the kids and was brilliant when it came to coaching. He adjusted his offense to fit what he had.”

“He wasn’t fancy as far as the game plan,” said Rick Grubbs, a former Scott assistant who also coached against his mentor while coaching the Cambridge Springs girls team. “But everybody knew what to do and they did it. He covered it and made sure they knew.

“He would always have a little something different. Especially if you had some success against him the last time you played. He coached to the girls’ strengths, but if you had a lead, he might call a timeout and tell the girls to go man-to-man and take it

to you.”

And for all his greatness, Scott was just one of the guys.

If he recognized you, he’d be the first to say hello and ask how things were going. He even knew how to make a new athletic director relax.

“I think the thing I learned from Coach Scott was respect,” said Mason. “When I got there, I knew who he was and was concerned if I could do a good job for him. On Day One, I was nervous and he asked me what my expectations were of him. I wanted to ask him the same question.

“But that is the way he was. He had a we will get through this attitude and whatever the hurdle, it wasn;t too high for him. Nothing rattled him. And you’d thank a man of his experience would be set in his ways, but not Steve.”

Scott’s career was highlighted by three key moments.

The 1990-2000 state championship game in which the Panthers lost 54-40 decision to Nativity BVM. Last year’s season opener when the school district re-christened the gymnasium to Steve Scott Gymnasium. And the 13th game of that same season when the Panthers beat Fairview — win No. 600 in Scott’s career 608-264 record.

Scott was also a standout player as a member of the Saegertown boys basketball.  The 1974 graduate finished with 722 career points, which includes a 49-point performance against Conneaut Valley on Feb. 19, 1974. That total still stands as the single-game scoring mark in program history.

 

Matthew Digiacomo can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at mdigiacomo@meadvilletribune.com.

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