Steve Scott got out of town. Of course, he was quick about it.
“I’m sitting in Pacific Grove right now,” Scott said. “Feeling an arctic blast.”
Scott was always the epitome of chill. Whether he was helping get the iconic Carlsbad 5K off the ground or starting the Cal State University San Marcos cross country and track teams from scratch.
But Scott, 62, got the retirement itch this year. After 20 years of reading stop watches and inspiring runners, he’s run off to the Monterey area.
“It was the right time,” Scott said.
The man’s life revolved about getting the right times so we can’t argue. The longtime American record holder in the mile, a three-time Olympian and owner of a record 136 sub-four-minute miles is keen on timing.
“I will miss the kids,” he said. “I most definitely will miss the kids.”
Some of them from that first Cougars team in 1999 were at his retirement gig. In fact, runners from every era of his stint at the San Marcos university on the hill was represented.
Of course many recreational runners know Scott from his days of leading, and winning, the Carlsbad 5K. Same goes for the zillions of parents with pictures of Scott leaning over to proudly place a medal on a tyke racing in an abbreviated event, all in the name of spreading the joy of running and really, just being a good guy.
Tracy Sundlun, one of Scott’s closest friends and a longtime member of the San Diego County running scene, might have put it best. Watching Scott sprint north comes with a cost.
“It’s a loss to our community and certainly a loss to those kids he served as a coach and a mentor,” Sundlun said. “He provided an opportunity for people to be the absolute best as a human they can be on off the field. It will be a shame people won’t have the opportunity to take advantage of that.
“People might never come across somebody who has accomplished as much as he has, with as much character. He’s a very, very special man.”
It’s chatter like that which makes Scott squirms. He’s a gold-medal winner at deflecting praise, instead making sure it lands on those not accustomed to it.
The racer with the legendary kick got just as big a kick watching a youngster finish a run that lasted three blocks as an CSUSM athlete attaining All-American status.
“I don’t not have a Master’s degree in kinesiology and I’m not the greatest ‘X’ and ‘O’ guy in terms of training techniques,” Scott said. “I know there are other coaches that have more common knowledge and degrees than I had.
“But the one thing I passed on to the kids was that they knew that I cared about them. I loved them and I wanted the best for them. That was sincere.”
Scott, who continues to run, poured his heart and soles into doing just that.
“Coaching is stressful and it was starting to take its toll on me,” he said. “I wanted to make it to the first year CSUSM was eligible for Division II and we had a great season. It was the right time.”
So the classy ex-Carlsbad resident has skedaddled to the Northern California, and yeah, we miss him already. In the long run, there might not be another Steve Scott and here’s why.
“I don’t get any bonus money for winning championships or producing All-Americans,” Scott said. “I do this because I want to help young kids achieve their goals, and to grow as people. That’s the thing that I brought.”
And what he left behind.
+ Contact Jay Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @jparis_sports
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports