Scott. Tanis. Works. Hard.
Many days, he arrives at his office before the sun rises. Many days, he leaves after it sets. And, he dedicated his birthday afternoon to the same group of people with whom he has spent three plus hours every day for the past four years: the Augustana track team.
And though Scott dedicates much of his time to sport, he doesn’t define his athletes by their times or places in meets. Scott understands the value of a well-rounded individual, approaching his coaching from a person-first, runner-second philosophy.
Often, this philosophy is explicitly expressed. At our team camp in the Black Hills last fall, Scott stood in front of his runners and told us that everyone plays a crucial role on the team. Everyone. Regardless of speed or health. I actually teared up during Scott’s talk; his words were just what I needed to hear after hobbling onto campus with crutches and a femoral stress reaction, fearing detachment from my teammates. It was a speech that would define the Augustana cross country team culture, as many of my fellow injured runners and I embarked on long road trips to cheer on our teammates in the championship season.
Though he often wears an embroidered Augustana cross country cap, Scott is a man of many hats: assistant coach, videographer, FCA leader, social media account manager, recruiter, runner, track and cross country super fan, strength coach, recovery advocate, photographer and follower of Jesus Christ. When his athletes are struggling with training, school or life in general, Scott offers a listening ear and a compassionate response–and a box of tissues. Scott serves our team in countless ways, and I am blessed to call him my coach.
Scott never had a magical, defining moment when he realized he was called to coach. Rather, he experienced a “slow-growing revelation” as he fell in love with cross country and track–sports he competed in throughout high school and college. In fact, Scott’s high school and college coaches serve as role models for his coaching style today.
Scott has also been heavily influenced by his dad, a person from whom he developed his personality.
“Even though he’s not a coach, he’s influenced my coaching a lot,” Scott said. “He showed me that you don’t have to be super flashy or super vocal about the things you do, but if you work really hard, you can make a difference.”
Augustana head coach Tracy Hellman has also impacted Scott’s work, demonstrating how a program should be led through his interactions with both athletes and coworkers. By working with Tracy, Scott learned that coaching involves both tough and positive conversations and said that Tracy understands how to address different situations appropriately.
Even on his birthday, showing up to practice is a joyful occasion for Scott; each afternoon, he observes Augustana’s (and his own) person-first mentality coming to fruition. Scott talked about the power of a positive environment, such as the togetherness displayed in his own team.
“I think what I’ve appreciated here is how powerful the environment around you can be,” Scott said. “We don’t have things perfect, but it’s something that’s more important here than it is at a lot of places. Running isn’t necessarily the most important thing…There’s a very unique and special atmosphere here that I’ve really come to appreciate.”
Ultimately, Scott appreciates how his runners balance sport with other aspects of life.
“You guys can work really hard and be serious but can have funny or intelligent conversations at the same time,” Scott said. “You’re just really good people and it makes me better in a lot of ways.”
What Scott may or may not realize though is that he makes us better.
And, clearly, I’m not only referring to running.