Track coach runs away with new book

September 18, 2007|By JANET HEIM

BOONSBORO - There's no denying Dwight Scott loves track and field. Even after his retirement in 1996 after 37 years as a coach at Boonsboro High School, he still lives and breathes the sport. The past 11 years he's coached as a volunteer at the high school.

"My mind still thinks track and field," said Scott, 76. He said his goal is to reach the 50-year mark as a Boonsboro High coach, which will be in 2009.

It is Scott's love of track and field that compelled him to devote three years of research and writing to his first book. Scott wrote a book about the origins of American track and field titled "No False Starts," with the support of Jack Griffin as an adviser.

Griffin, from Frederick, Md., coached track and field for 53 years at the high school, community college and Olympic level.

The self-published book has photos and historical information on athletes who put American track and field on the map. The research goes back as far as the Native Americans in the 1800s.


In the book, Scott explores the foundation of American track and field; the first athletes, including the Zuni Pueblos and the Hopi Thunderbirds, as well as Jim Thorpe, Pop Warner and Billy Mills. The third chapter highlights some elite athletes, with the final chapter showcasing extraordinary athlete-coach partnerships.

Scott feels U.S. track and field is not well supported, compared to other sports such as baseball and football.

"The reason the book was written was because my colleague Jack Griffin and I shared the opinion that without club and high school/college track and field and cross country, the U.S. would never have been well represented in the Olympics," Scott said. "You'll find some things in this book you won't find published before - how Indians were significant, how college and prep schools were significant."

Scott said some of his research was just "dumb luck." He and his wife visited the Carlisle Indian School in Carlisle, Pa., and went to the library seeking local information. Disappointed with what they found, they went to a nearby diner for a break.

They started talking to a gentleman at the diner who suggested they go to the local clothing store where the walls were covered with track and field photos, just what Scott was looking for.

"Coach," as Scott prefers to be called, is still a presence at Boonsboro High School - whether it's unloading supplies, taking care of equipment or encouraging runners on the track. His recent round of treatments for prostate cancer have done little to slow him down.

"I don't think about it. What good would it do?" Scott said of his cancer.

Scott was hired in 1959 to start the football and track and field programs at Boonsboro High School, as well as the physical education program at Boonsboro Middle School. He was the high school's football coach the first 18 years, until 1977, when he took over the cross country coaching position from Frank Keyser.

Scott then became athletic director in 1977 after Keyser died.

When Scott first took the job at Boonsboro, he and his first wife, Miriam "Mim" Scott, bought a house in Brightwood Acres, off Mount Aetna Road. They intentionally stayed out of the Boonsboro school district because Scott thought there would be concerns of nepotism for his children.

Their four children went to South Hagerstown High School, and in hindsight, Scott wishes they had been at Boonsboro with him.

"Those fortunate to work here are blessed. The people that come to school here - the students and parents - are wonderful people," Scott said.

He now lives in Frederick with his second wife, Helen, whom he married after his first wife died at age 43. Helen, a Frederick native and a widow, met Scott through running.

Scott was raised in Arlington, Va. He was a football player and hurdler in high school at Washington & Lee in Arlington, Va., graduating in 1949.

He earned a bachelor's degree at Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College), where he played football all four years, the last two on a full scholarship after his father died during his sophomore year. He and another student got the track program at Western Maryland running again - it had been abandoned since 1941-42 - in the spring of 1953, his senior year.

After four years in the Army, Scott took a coaching job in Colorado, near where he was stationed in Fort Carson, Colo.

A year later, he and his first wife, who was from Bethesda, Md., decided to come back home. He got a job at the high school he graduated from, teaching history while a teacher was on sabbatical.

Scott then learned of the job at Boonsboro High and said he was the 15th and last applicant for the job. He hadn't even told his wife that he was being interviewed for the job and was offered it on the spot.

Well aware of the commitment required to excel in the sport, Scott is pleased this book will bring attention to some special athletes. He has sold some copies at indoor track meets and hopes to sell some at the college level.

"Some people say this is a history book. I hope someone with more expertise will pick up the ball," Scott said.

To purchase the book, go to and click on the order form for the book.

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