Veleria Scott reflects on past of MSMS basketball

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Veleria Scott reflects on past of MSMS basketball

Coach Scott is the Student Activities Coordinator and has worked at MSMS for 15 years.

Coach Scott is the Student Activities Coordinator and has worked at MSMS for 15 years.

Aastha Banga

Coach Scott is the Student Activities Coordinator and has worked at MSMS for 15 years.

Aastha Banga

Aastha Banga

Coach Scott is the Student Activities Coordinator and has worked at MSMS for 15 years.

Luke Bowles, Staff Writer

As I walked into Veleria Scott’s office, the collection of athletic trophies immediately caught my eye. It was clear to see that she took pride in her achievements, as seen by the multiple framed newspaper clippings from her history as the basketball coach of the Blue Waves. Though a small room, Scott’s office portrayed the history and possibility of a promising future of athletics at MSMS.

Scott, the current Student Activities Coordinator and a well-known figure at MSMS, has worked at the school since 2002 when she accepted a part-time coaching job for the male basketball team. In the following year, MSMS won its first official MHSAA basketball game. Scott glowed with pride as she reminisced that season.

“I still remember it,” Scott said. “We actually won five games that season, and it was really just a great experience. It was truly special.”

After years of “frequent defeats and constant traveling,”  the MSMS basketball team took their last step off the court in 2008 when they moved up two divisions and struggled to stay competitive.

“Honestly, some games, our girls team would literally get thumped,” she chuckled. “I enjoyed the time but not the defeats.”

Scott also spoke about the students during her coaching years.

“They were absolutely great, and the participation was really good,” Scott said. “No matter how much school work they had, they always worked hard.”

Scott believes that sports have a strong impact on MSMS outreach across the state and that the basketball team specifically really pushed the school out into the public eye.

“We were featured in the Clarion-Ledger and the Commercial Dispatch,” she said. “I really think that affected how many students saw us.”

Scott recalled how influential the parents were in helping the team. The scoreboard which is still standing in the Stark Recreation Center Gymnasium was actually funded by a donor that a parent connected to MSMS. The parents were vital in keeping the team alive.

“I know the parents were very supportive because had they not been, we wouldn’t have succeeded,” Scott said. “Our whole group, players and coaches, were so close-knit. It was really unique.”

Scott saw the basketball team as a positive influence on the school as it provided an athletic outlook for many students.

“A lot of the students would not have been able to continue to play at their old home school,” Scott explained. “Students are so much more free here, and having a basketball team only increased interest in MSMS.”

Of all her years coaching, there is one story in particular that has remained one of her “best memories” to this day.

“Back in ‘08, I had a student who had never played basketball before. The other team was shooting a free throw, and when he got the rebound, he scored it, but it was in the wrong goal!” she said, releasing nostalgic laughter. “We could not believe it, but because he was so excited, we all cheered him on anyway.”

With a twinkle in her eye, she glanced at a framed picture of the team’s first tournament win, which brought about her beloved memories of coaching.

“It’s really been a ride, but I do miss it,” Scott said. “Blowing that whistle, pushing players when I know they’re tired… so many things. And sometimes it’s just the small things, like the players helping me with loading the buses in the wintertime. That gave me the courage to go on.”

Since the basketball days ended, MSMS has seen interest in the sport resurface. Groups of up to twenty students gather to play pick-up games every so often, and seeing this, Scott encourages students to push for a team if they want it.

“As long as the students input it, we’re gonna look at it,” Scott said. “I think if you’re a student, and you push it, and you really want it, that’s where you start.”

These same students have expressed a desire for the return of a basketball team to MSMS, and they see Scott as a valuable figure with basketball knowledge and experience. Many students see basketball as a way to spread the name of MSMS and are hopeful for its return to the school.

Thomas Richardson, MSMS English instructor and former MSMS basketball player, put Scott on a pedestal when speaking on the possible return of a team.

“If someone wants to get basketball started back here, I’d talk to Coach Scott. She’s the best coach I ever had,” Richardson said.

The newspaper clippings and trophies remained in their spots, testaments to her legacy. Whether a similar legacy of basketball at MSMS will make a reappearance remains unknown.

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