Kevin Scott never intended to be a swimmer. He just wanted to be part of a team and make a connection with somebody when he was a ninth-grader at Heath Junior High School in Greeley.
Instead of signing up as a manager of the swim team on the first day of practice, Scott changed his mind and began competing and opened a lot of eyes along the pool decks. As they say in the sports world, the rest is history.
Scott, 52, became the first boys swimming state qualifier in the history of Greeley West High School in 1976 (200-yard individual medley), swam for the Loveland Swim Club year-round, qualified for state his junior and senior years at West in every event except for diving, graduated from West in 1979 owning every school record except the 100-yard breaststroke and diving, swam at the University of Northern Colorado for four years and became one of the finest in the state when it came to coaching high school swimmers.
IT’S TIME TO RETIRE
After 25 years of mentoring and coaching the Windsor High School boys and girls swimming teams, Scott has announced he will retire from coaching at the prep level.
“I feel like it’s time for me to find a new challenge,” Scott said. “It’s time to start something fresh. I want to have uncommitted time to go to Grand Junction (where his son, Andrew, is a freshman swimmer at Colorado Mesa University) and watch Andrew swim.”
Scott, who was hired as a physical education teacher in Windsor in 1987 and currently teaches at Windsor High School, said he originally went into teaching to become a swimming coach.
“I think I wanted to be a teacher because I wanted to coach,” said Scott, who was named the Colorado Class 4A girls swimming coach of the year in 2008 and has won multiple coach of the year awards in the Tri-Valley Conference and Northern League.
Keith Wiedeman, Scott’s swimming coach at Greeley West, said Scott and his family — dad, Steve; mom, Jan; and younger brother, Steven — changed the whole complexion of swimming at Greeley West.
Scott’s parents didn’t miss one home swimming meet during his 25 years at Windsor, his dad working the timing system and his mother right beside him and Scott’s wife, Kathy, keeping score.
“His mom and dad are such wonderful people and they were so supportive. Kevin was kind of the first guy back then in that era that truly bought into swimming year round if you wanted to compete throughout the state,” said Wiedeman, 64, who coached for 28 years at Greeley West before retiring in 2000-01. “He kind of set the tempo and everybody just kind of fed off that for a lot of years.”
WHO IS THAT KID?
Wiedeman said he was ready to hang up the coaching whistle in the 1970s until he heard about this kid named Scott.
“At that time the guy that was coaching (Greeley) Central said, ‘You know, you’ve got a good kid coming.’ I said, ‘I do? Where did you see him?’ He said, ‘I saw him swim at a middle school meet.’ I said, ‘What’s his name?’ He said, ‘Scott. I can’t remember his first name. He’s pretty good. He can really develop into something.’ ”
As they say, the rest is history.
“Basically, I stayed and after 28 years I retired,” Wiedeman laughed.
Wiedeman said he knew Scott had the talent to be a college swimmer, but didn’t foresee him as a coach back then.
“He worked for me for a couple of years. I think back at the Elks Club when he worked there is when I began to see that he related so well with kids,” Wiedeman said. “He just blossomed and just kept getting better and better.”
Wiedeman said he is so proud of Scott and what he’s accomplished at Windsor.
“Now that I officiate some, just to watch him coach and to listen to what he tells his swimmers, and the enthusiasm that he still has for it ... he always had something good to say to each kid. It kind of gives me goose bumps talking about him. I’m real proud of what Kevin’s done throughout his career.”
MOLDING A FUTURE COACH
Scott considers Wiedeman, Loveland coaching legend Dick Hewson, and fellow coach Kevin Polansky as his mentors and role models in the sport. Scott prided himself on being an advocate for his swimmers and treating them fairly.
“I really enjoy when he still calls me coach,” Wiedeman said. “When Kevin, who is getting ready to retire, still refers to me as coach, it makes me feel real good.”
Hewson, 77, who is such a legend that the aquatic center at Thompson Valley High School is named after him, said Scott turned the Windsor program around and knew what he was doing.
“The kids bought into it, and he has done a great job,” Hewson said. “He’s a swimmer’s coach, and he gets along well with the kids. He has a lot of respect, and that’s real important.”
Hewson was the Loveland Swim Club coach when he first met Scott, between Scott’s sophomore and junior years of high school.
“He was very dedicated, and so was his family,” Hewson said. “To drive over here to Loveland every day for practice, you’ve got to be pretty dedicated.”
FACE OF WINDSOR SWIMMING
Windsor High School athletic director Mark Kanagy calls Scott the face of swimming at Windsor.
“Kevin Scott has been an institution when it comes to swimming at Windsor High School,” Kanagy said. “He’s put in a lot of years. He’s paid his dues. He’s had a lot of success.”
Kanagy said it’s nice that Scott is still in the building and can help transition the program to the next coach of the boys’ team.
“He’s been there from the beginning. He’s considered an icon of Windsor swimming,” Kanagy said. “The kids knew what they were going to get. He backed up what he said. He coached with class. No one’s going to replace Kevin Scott.”
During the past 25 years, Scott has seen it all from barely being able to field a girls team in 1988 to the pool being drained for two years in the mid-1990s because it needed to be repaired to coaching swimmer Makenzie Norlin and diver Mikhaila Eckhardt to state titles in 2010 to building programs that finished in the top 16 in the state to coaching his two children, Allison and Andrew, during their standout careers at Windsor.
“In the fall of 1988 that first season, there were 11 girls. That was my first high school coaching season,” recalled Scott, who began coaching boys at Windsor in 1990 when he combined the Windsor boys with the Eaton boys to form a team. “From there, with my philosophy, I just wanted to represent Windsor High School and our community, to build a base and find girls that were interested. We didn’t have any state qualifiers for probably five years.”
HUGE SHOES TO FILL
Mandy Schneider, 36, current Windsor High School girls swimming coach and a 1995 Windsor graduate who swam for Scott and was his assistant coach, said she learned so much from Scott.
“He knows just about anything you could know about swimming,” Schneider said. “He was very positive when he needed to be positive, and he could get after you when he needed to get after you. There are going to be huge shoes to fill in the whole swimming program. When people think of Windsor swimming, Kevin Scott is the face and the name that they put with it right away. I still have him on speed dial, and I’m not afraid to call him.”
Schneider said Scott is really good at getting down to the basics.
“He made me realize what a girls team should really look like and how competitive a girls team should really be,” she said. “He taught me how to find kids’ strengths and weaknesses and how to help them to become stronger swimmers. He focuses on the swimmer as a person, and how to teach them to become stronger people and how to teach them to become better human beings.”
STILL COACHING THE YOUNG SWIMMERS
Scott isn’t through with coaching, though. He’s currently coaching 6- to 10-year-olds a couple of nights a week for Loveland Swim Club, where he’s also the president of the club. He has also built houses for Habitat For Humanity in Greeley, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Ecuador and Bolivia.
“I’ve only been there once when they hand the keys over, but it’s pretty powerful,” Scott said.
Scott said he’s proud when he looks at the record boards at the Windsor High School pool, and that he’s leaving the program better off now than when he inherited it.
“I think I had a hand in every single record on our record board,” Scott said. “I remember our school records and our pool records. It’s not always winning meets or getting coach of the year or school records, but probably leaving the program better than when I found it with 11 kids that first year and to see where it is now consistently scoring in the top 16 at the state meet for boys and girls. We’re getting relays back in the top 16, we’re getting individuals back in the top eight. We’re sending athletes off to compete at the next level. Windsor swimming has come a long way in 25 years.”