- Charlotte Tama
Coach Scott and the Rise of Walls Track
Coach Scott talking to Maximo Stowers-DeWolfe (‘23) / Credits: Miles Felix
It takes a special kind of dedication, passion, and patience to coach high school sports. Coaching is difficult work, and can occupy upwards of eight hours per week. School Without Walls track and cross country head coach Nick Scott spends these eight-some hours each week at a community track in Columbia Heights, contending with winter weather and rival running groups to support his running penguins and get them time on the track. Driven by a passion for coaching, Mr. Scott brings unique heart, dedication, and energy to the Walls track team.
Mr. Scott’s coaching expertise stems from a background rich with athletics. He ran track at a high level for most of his childhood, participating in club circuits through the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), an elite sports organization with a reputation for producing professional athletes. By 11th grade, he had clocked impressive personal records of 51 seconds in the 400-meter and 1:59 minutes in the 800-meter.
Although Mr. Scott left the track for college football, he thanks his daughters for bringing him back to it. He recounts how he first became a coach by aiding his oldest daughter’s track coach. “He was overwhelmed … so I came and helped out for that outdoor season,” Mr. Scott said.
From that moment forward, Mr. Scott knew he had found something special in coaching. For him, to have a pursuit outside of his day job that allowed him to further “engage with [his] daughters and watch them grow,” as well as the opportunity to “help other kids and feed [his] personal competitive nature.”
From the starting point his daughters presented him with, and with help from his accomplished background in running, Mr. Scott “fell in love with coaching young kids; an opening was up at School Without Walls and I just decided to do it.”
However, Mr. Scott’s start at Walls was no walk in the park. Mr. Scott describes the 2019 cross-country team as small, with performance being “very below average, subpar, not finishing top seven in any event” — a stark contrast with this year’s track team, which contains 30-plus athletes and several consistent medalists.
Mr. Scott brought with him a fresh perspective on the Walls sports program. Regarding the challenges that come with Walls’ small size and limited resources, Mr. Scott’s motto is “no excuses.” While he recognizes the “objective” disadvantage, he maintains an uncompromising view on the school’s limitations, saying, “it doesn’t matter, we have to get [the work] done.”
This outlook revitalized the team. In March 2020, when COVID-19 hit and Walls track was shut down for a full year, the team did not stall. Mr. Scott points to how a small group of athletes, including Nicole Lytle and Morris Walker, both Walls class of 2022, Maximo Stowers-DeWolfe (‘23) and Nadia Lytle (‘25), worked hard throughout quarantine, becoming “pillars” of the team.
Mr. Scott encapsulates the transformation stating, “COVID happened, those athletes… continued to work. They became great, and then when we came back the whole team kinda was built off of them and we just kept momentum going.”
The track team truly has kept the momentum going. Recently, the girls team earned second place in the DCIAA city championships — beating Jackson Reed for the first time in Walls track history — and competed well at the DCSAA state championships, with several podium finishes in individual and relay events. But outside of coaching and family, who is Coach Scott?
Mr. Scott works in the production of live events, managing live events at anywhere from Warner Theater to the Capital One Arena. He typically works in “sprouts,” dividing chunks of time, usually several days or weeks at a time, or coaching and chunks for work. As Mr. Scott says, “the time I’m off…I really have the opportunity to just put my time and effort into track.”
He confesses that he does prioritize track, “shaping [his] schedule around [it].” To Mr. Scott, coaching at Walls presents a unique opportunity to pursue a passion that most adults don’t get. He expressed his gratitude, saying, “[At] 42 years old and [having] something that I care about that’s outside of family and money-making, many people don’t get that at my age.”