EVELETH — JoJo Scott has had a lifelong affiliation with the sports world, whether it be as an athlete, a coach or an administrator.
Now, Scott gets to continue on with her lifelong passion in the school she grew up: Eveleth-Gilbert High School.
Scott was recently named the new activities director at Eveleth-Gilbert High School, replacing the retiring Kyle Thoreson. Previously working as the athletic director at Mesabi Range College, Scott is excited and prepared for the new position.
“It’s different but it’s similar too,” Scott said Friday at her new office near the gymnasium. “It’s kind of under the same umbrella with athletics. At Mesabi, I was really busy with eight different varsity sports, but they all only had just the one team. Now at Eveleth-Gilbert, we have five offerings for girls and three for boys just in the fall so that’s eight sports already and they all have other teams underneath them. I’m excited for it all.’’
With so many different teams to look after, Scott says there will be a lot more planning involved when it comes to scheduling officials, making game schedules and providing transportation for the Golden Bear students.
Prior to taking on the Eveleth-Gilbert position, Scott had spent most of her working life at Mesabi Range. Beginning in 2005, Scott was hired on as the student activities director and head volleyball coach at the college. Throughout the years she also worked as an academic advisor and a health professor and headed disability services as well as the tutoring center.
Nine years into her tenure at Mesabi Range, Scott decided she wanted to transition more to the faculty side of the college.
“I got the AD job at Mesabi and kept coaching volleyball and teaching health. So I went and got my masters in education from Bemidji State. I wanted to go back and get that degree and complete everything that I’d been doing in the last few years anyway.”
Knowing that her roles at Mesabi Range were going to shift again, Scott decided to look into the activities director position at Eveleth-Gilbert and applied for the job just in time.
“I applied on the last day that the opening was up and I was fortunate enough to get it. It was just really good timing with Mr. Thoreson retiring and me wanting to look for something else.
“It was a scary thought to want to find another job because the thought of leaving Mesabi was so scary. It was what I had known for the last 13, 14 years and I absolutely lived for the students over there. The students are what keeps me going and I had met some great friends and great students in my time there. It was just heartbreaking.”
With Scott exiting Mesabi Range, the head softball coach and Scott’s husband, Brad, will be taking over as the new athletic director for the Norse.
But what drives Scott’s passion for wanting to work with student-athletes?
“It’s just what I knew growing up,” Scott explained. “My mom worked at Eveleth-Gilbert until she retired and she did it all. She did physical education, elementary swimming, teaching health, coaching volleyball and softball. It’s just what I grew up with.
“When I was deciding on a college, I asked myself, ‘what would I even be good at?’ and it seemed to make sense to just go for what I already knew.”
Scott ultimately decided on attending the Universtiy of Minnesota-Duluth where she got her degree in K-12 physical education with a minor in coaching. Scott also played basketball and softball for the Bulldogs in her time at UMD.
Now, Scott says her own family is following the path of her parents.
“My husband Brad and I are just like my parents were. It’s a family thing. My kids grew up running around the halls of Mesabi with the other younger kids and they love seeing all the older athletes and watching them play. That’s what our life has been and they just love it.”
Returning to her former high school, Scott wants to do everything she can for the students.
“I think the students never wonder how all this stuff happens behind the scenes. They think it just kind of happens. Now, as an adult, I want to do all these things for the students. I want things to be perfect for the athletes or for the students in fine arts because that’s what it’s about. We’re here for the kids and we want them to have a great experience every day they walk in these doors.”
As for what she plans to do to kickstart things, Scott has a few plans in mind.
“First, the No. 1 goal I have is to make life easier for all the parents and guardians who have kids participating in our activities here. A large portion of high schools in Minnesota are switching over to being able to register kids online and that’s what I want to do for them.
“We want people to be able to get forms online or check their kids physical date and see if they still need to turn everything in. It makes things a lot smoother for the parents as opposed to filling out a ton of paper forms every season. That’s the future right now and we hope to have that in place by this winter.”
In addition to making life easier for the parents, Scott wants to get the students more involved as well.
“I’ve been thinking about starting a type of leadership council where a couple kids from each sport or activity come to together and figure out what they as students of Eveleth-Gilbert want to stand for. It’s something that will let them figure out what they’re about and help develop strong leadership qualities.”
Overall, Scott believes that while the athletics will come at their own pace, her main priority is developing good people.
“Sure, we want to win games and all that, but ultimately I want to help create good people. You don’t realize it when you’re a high schooler but sports and activities are the things that help teach lifelong lessons for the kids.
“Time management, teamwork, cooperation, you name it. The kids might realize how much these things help when they’re older. I grew up doing this stuff and I didn’t realize at the time that I was learning these huge lessons along the way.’’