Aug. 3—Rob Scott has been waiting a long time for this. After a lengthy career as an assistant at Superior, he officially ran a football practice as a head coach for the first time on Tuesday afternoon.
The new Eau Claire Memorial head man has had months to step back and appreciate the fulfillment of a lifelong dream since he was hired last spring. It started to sink in when he got his team together for its first contact day. On Monday, the team took another step when coaches handed out equipment.
But on Tuesday, it felt more official.
"It's been a relief," Scott said. "It's finally here. I've been waiting 25 years for this, so I'm really grateful for the opportunity."
The Old Abes took to the practice field behind the school as part of the first day of action for 11-man teams around the state. Scott and a staff made up of a mix of carryovers and newcomers brought excitement while working with pad-less players, and the student-athletes reciprocated.
"To see the energy of the kids has been tremendous," Scott said. "It energizes me and our staff is working their butts off."
Scott set in motion his two-hour southern migration when he accepted the Memorial job in May, ending a 16-year run with the Spartans. He worked his way up the coaching depth chart in that time, starting as a JV coach before eventually becoming the defensive coordinator and associate head coach.
Longtime Superior head coach Bob DeMeyer offered effusive praise of Scott's work with student-athletes when the hiring was announced, saying Memorial players will love their new coach. While both sides are still getting to know one another, players say Scott has made a strong first impression.
"He's a great guy," senior tight end Jack Redwine said. "He seems to know a lot about the game and brings a lot of energy to our program."
"I really like him," added senior running back Reese Woerner. "He really establishes a good vibe around the team, shows us good leadership and really knows how to run this team. I think we're going to end up a pretty good team at the end of this year."
Scott has emphasized developing student-athletes as a whole, not just on the football field, since coming to Memorial. He said that's the focus in these early practices.
"We're focusing on what we call our marks of excellence," Scott said. "They're our character traits. We're putting a huge focus on that just as much as we are football. For example, today our theme is love. We're going to define love by sacrificing oneself to benefit another. It's going to show up in everything we do."
He's also working on installing new schemes with an emphasis on not overwhelming players with drastic adjustments.
"It's kind of been a balance," Scott said. "There are similar concepts but we are bringing in a lot of new concepts as well. The kids have been very open to change, but we've been trying to meet them in the middle."
"We've kind of kept some of the traditions that we've had from recent coaches," Redwine said. "It makes it easier, and I'm sure it makes it easier for him too."
While it's been a long wait for Scott to get to this point, the Old Abe players competed on the gridiron less than three months ago. Memorial took part in the alternative fall period last spring, created for teams who weren't prepared to play sports in the fall amid the coronavirus pandemic. That's made for a quick turnaround for players, which could be an advantage considering how recently they were in football mode.
"Us, North and Superior are the only (Big Rivers) teams that played in the spring," Redwine said. "Other schools are trying to get back into it."
Scott inherits a Memorial squad that went 2-5 last season, ending with a 20-0 triumph against rival Eau Claire North. The Old Abes kick off their season on Friday, Aug. 20 at La Crosse Logan.
"I get to know them better every day," Scott said of his players. "That's one of the most energetic, fun things to do, to develop those relationships. I hope I feel that way throughout the whole season."