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Opinion

Community Commentary: Remembering Estancia’s ‘Big Jim’ Scott

I wanted to say a few words about a man whose name proudly stands atop the new stadium on the Estancia High School campus, Jim Scott.

Anyone associated with youth sports in the Costa Mesa vicinity knows and respects the name Jim Scott. His lifelong passion was developing ways to make the kids in our city enjoy and appreciate youth sports. He was a gentleman who created and financed the numerous Battle of the Bell trophies and the guy who smiled and joked while being served the bill for the winning team’s Newport Rib Co.'s experience.

A lot has been written about this wonderful man we all loved and admired, and I wanted to relate a few of my own amusing experiences that have gone untold.

About 20 or so years ago, Jim would regularly meet my brother Art and I at Norm’s for lunch. Jim was constantly chatting and politicking for a new stadium on the Estancia campus. He would map out various versions on the napkins and pencil out numbers for costs. He routinely discussed who could possibly aid in its financing and potential completion.

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He loved the challenge of building something wonderful in the community for all kids to utilize. As we would depart, he would always say, “Be patient, dogs. We’ll get there.”

Many from our community will never imagine the huge impact Jim has had on Estancia. He took the lead in constructing the outside weight room near the softball field and then helped finance the concrete foundation, as well as the wheelchair ramp and guard rails. He also assisted in the purchase of the weight equipment it contained.

Former football Coach John Liebengood made mention he needed an electric lift for football practice, so somehow, somewhere, Jim located and purchased one on his own. Coach also wished for an outside office and shortly after his comment was heard, there appeared a single wide trailer, free of charge, from this wizard.

We Perry brothers coached Eagle lightweight football together for nearly 25 years. Before every home game, Jim would come in and give our players a five-minute “Smokey” as he called it, or pep talk to most. He would assign numbers to phrases and during the game he would shout out the numbers.

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My favorite, and the one he proudly wore on the back of his Estancia letterman’s jacket, was No. 12. This number meant: “Grab ‘em by the nose and kick ‘em in the butt.” As our players would leave for the field, Jim stood at the door and demanded a “man’s” handshake from each athlete as he looked him in the eye and shouted out a number.

During each game, Art would invite Jim to call one series of offensive plays. Jim would continually pace the sidelines, waiting for his opportunity, playbook in hand.

His favorite play was the Z-trap. It’s a misdirection running play for the wingback and usually went for large gains. He loved holding the quarterback’s face mask and whispering each play to him. Luckily for us, Jim’s play calling usually ended in a touchdown.

Big Jim created and implemented what we called watermelon Wednesday. After practice on that day, we could count on Jim lugging a half-dozen watermelons out on the field for the freshman team. He would slice them up and the team would scarf them down. As a coach or player, you never forget people who do their best to make practice fun.

Art and I have coached golf at Estancia for more than two decades. Many years back, we asked Jim to get involved in our sport. We, like every other team on campus, wanted Jim to host a Newport Rib Co. rib feast (thank you, Fran & John Ursini) and provide a bell for the best golf team in the city. It was just like Jim to agree to our proposal and also change the trophy from a bell to a cup. He proudly informed us, “Boys, this will be my first No Bell Prize.”

Big Jim, you got us there in fine fashion.

CHUCK PERRY is a longtime Estancia coach, sports booster and Costa Mesa resident.


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