It had been a long time, too long, since I had written anything when Scott Strickland asked a favor of me. Scott asked if I could write a column about, what else, Scott Strickland. I would have written the article anyway, but since he happened to catch me at the right moment, I responded without even giving the task much thought. I’ve never written a column covering such an expanse of material before; four years of someone’s life was a slightly more intimidating topic than, say, Dumb and Dumber.|
At first glance, Scott’s request may seem self-centered and even arrogant, asking someone to write exclusively on himself. But I knew better; I knew Scott, and I knew what he wanted me to do, to “sum up some of the best 4 years we will ever have.” I’m not Tenacious D, and this is NOT a tribute. This is a recollection of the Scott Strickland high school experience, as seen through the lens of someone who witnessed much of this experience, me. In fact, I took Scott’s request as an extraordinary compliment to me. I’ve written one year for Mount Tabor’s Dorian Scroll, I’ve written about 20 columns on a website that half of my friends don’t know about, and now someone wants me to sum up the best years of his life to this point. It’s safe to say I better not choke.
Anyway, that’s about enough of a preface. Here now is the Scott Strickland high school experience:
While Scott’s reputation and legacy at Mount Tabor was built around a number of things, perhaps the most recognizable was his passion for the school’s athletics. If you were to peruse the 2002 Mount Tabor yearbook, you would probably stumble upon page 94, the Senior Superlatives page. Naturally your instincts and interests would direct you first to the Most Humorous category, won by one of the most utterly clever, witty, and brilliant individuals ever to write on this website. However, eventually your glance would shift to some of the other awards, most notably of course, the Most School Spirit award. The man on the left, a slender man donning a loose-fitting Mount Tabor 6th Man shirt, a foam “Number 1” hand, and a gold crown, was none other than Scott Strickland. (It is my obligation to note that Scott was not able to run away comfortably with the award; a man known as “Zorro” made a stiff challenge to Scott during his tenure at Mount Tabor.)
Scott’s attendance record at Mount Tabor soccer and basketball games was unmatched during his high school career. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he drove to 63% of road basketball and soccer games. However, the reason he was able to make lasting impressions on fellow students, referees, our players, opposing players, and opposing fans was his proximity to the playing surface (translation: he always got the best seat). As there were no assigned seats to any high school sporting events, it was first come, first serve, and no one got served before Scott. I can recall many a game when my well-conceived, painfully demoralizing insults went unheard because I didn’t show up at 6:30 for a 7:00 game.
But it was Scott’s remarkable heckling ability that he will be remembered for. Others may have had his natural talent, but he had an uncommon love for heckling and an intense drive to cleverly take down the morale of the opponent. His assaults on the Kernersville schools, Glenn and East Forsyth, were his most passionate. In the most memorable of these, nearly the entire student section was ejected after Scott and others repeatedly heckled a certain Glenn cheerleader. Upon being ejected, he uttered one last famous but unprintable phrase. Throughout his career, he has been cussed by players’ mothers (Mike Drum’s mom let out some frustration after she felt the basketball goal taped to Scott's shirt led to Mike’s poor play) and by eventual McDonald’s All-Americans (Chris Paul as a sophomore, after Scott taunted Chris’ brother CJ Paul and teammate JK “CVS” Edwards), and of course he has gotten soccer players ejected (two players from Ragsdale who reacted unkindly to Scott and Conor McHugh’s remarks).
Scott’s most famous non-heckling incident occurred after one of the most remarkable upsets in the history of organized basketball, Mount Tabor’s home win over reigning state champion RJ Reynolds in 2002. Amid the chaos that ensued after the game, he got stuck at the bottom of the pile at midcourt and managed to stab himself in the hand with his keys. Scott Strickland had to be taken to the hospital after attending a basketball game. If that isn’t school spirit, then bears CERTAINLY do not crap in the woods.
Scott’s ties to Mount Tabor are obvious and well-documented, but Scott’s love-hate relationship with East Forsyth needs to be discussed as well. Despite the fact that East Forsyth is almost on the opposite side of the county, a solid 20 minutes from Scott’s house and 15 minutes from Mount Tabor, he has feelings as passionate about East Forsyth as any other school in the county.
Scott has professed a hatred of nearly everything of or pertaining to East Forsyth. He has been quoted as saying that “their baseball team sucks,” “their guys suck,” and “their baseball field sucks.” He holds an especially intense dislike towards their guys, but that could have something to do with his equally strong love for their girls.
Most scholars credit Scott with starting the legendary East Forsyth-Mount Tabor “relationship pipeline” after a basketball game in 2001. So the story goes, he and several other students had been heckling the East cheerleaders the previous game, and they continued the assaults on this fateful night as well. After the game, Scott managed to use the legendary Strickland charm to talk to Katie Weegar, one of the cheerleaders. Within minutes, he had scored the digits and gained one of the most important connections in Mount Tabor male history. Although Scott and Katie never dated, this opened up the pipeline led to at least six new relationships in the next year, several involving Mount Tabor baseball players. (It should be noted that my senior prom date was from East Forsyth as well, although the pipeline had no discernable influence on this.)
For Scott, the most important relationship that came from this connection was his relationship with Sarah Lewis. In April of his senior year, the two started to solidify an off-and-on relationship that started around the beginning of the school year. Scott and Sarah dated for the rest of school and the entire summer before pulling the “long distance relationships are too hard, so we should break up” routine in the beginning of September. He says he still has a place in his heart for Sarah, whom he still says is “the one.”
And all because he decided to talk to Katie Weegar…
There’s much more to Scott than school spirit and macking on other schools’ cheerleaders, however. Undoubtedly most of the memories we all have from high school are of the stuff we did with friends that no one knows about and that doesn’t get us any Senior Superlatives. As good of friends as Scott and I were, I know I wasn’t his closest friend, so he let me in on some of the things he wants to remember about high school. Ah, you’re thinking this is gonna be a friendship ad from the year book. I’m to smart for that. So in this section, there will be absolutely no elipses, no abbreviations for inside jokes, and no ridiculous nicknames that no one will remember five years from now. (Am I spiteful because I didn’t buy a friendship ad? Of course not.)
For starters, Scott and I were both part of the Tarheels magical 2001-2002 WCCC championship season. With Scott’s silky-smooth lefty stroke from behind the arc, Kevin Batchelor’s remarkable ballhandling and defensive ability, Conor McHugh’s scoring presence, and my consistent 2 point, 12 rebound performances, we were able to cruise to a league championship that will be remembered at least until next season.
Scott, who considers himself to be a funny guy (THAT’S a laugh – just kidding, Scott), made a point to make as many friends as he could, and I have to admit he has done a fine job of that. Many of his best friends were on the baseball team (which will be discussed in depth, just be patient). He and Conor developed a habit of referring to each other exclusively as “Chief” by the end of their senior year. He and Ben Kaplan apparently spent roughly 8% of their waking hours at their own houses, since they ate breakfast at Biscuitville every morning of senior year, had baseball practice until 5 or 6 every day, and frequently traveled to Kernersville (home of East Forsyth for all you non-locals) at nights.
But life wouldn’t be life without the tough times, too. Unfortunately, I know I can’t to do these events justice, but I know I need to write about them anyway. Just before Christmas of his junior year, Scott’s parents split. His next Christmas was equally difficult, as his grandfather passed away in December of his senior year. I wasn’t close enough to Scott to know just how difficult some of these times were for him (I doubt anyone else really knows), but I have to respect him for getting through them the way he has.
The best memories I personally have of the Scott Strickland high school experience are from my 10th and 11th grade baseball seasons (I retired after my 11th grade year, which is explained in my first column ever). In fact, that 10th grade season on JV was one of my two favorite seasons in any sport, the other being our overachieving senior football season (which really deserves its own column at some point).
After being cut his freshman year, JV Coach Joe McGuinn selected Scott to the team as a sophomore. Scott was one of the most unique players the game has ever seen; as a pitcher, he threw in the upper 50s, and he probably couldn't hit a golf ball over the fence. Yet he managed to finish the 10th grade season with an ERA around 3 and, although he probably didn’t hit the Mendoza line during the season, he had a legendary performance at the plate in the 11th grade 100-inning game (an interminably long baseball fundraiser). Scott pitched occasionally during his 11th and 12th grade seasons on varsity, but it wasn't his play that we will remember the most.
One critical element of Scott’s baseball career was his involvement in the Big Cats. The Big Cats were one of the most influential forces in Mount Tabor JV baseball history. The original Big Cats, Conor and myself, started the tradition at the beginning of the 10th grade year. The Big Cats had many obligations and responsibilities, including superior performance on the field and the absolutely critical pre-game ground ball ritual. Scott was soon selected as an alternate Big Cat, which required him to perform certain other duties as well as fill in for Conor or myself on occasion. The leadership of the Big Cats was instrumental in the JV team's brilliant 17-4 record and Central Piedmont Conference championship.
Anyone on that team would agree that the selection of the next season’s Big Cats was one of the most highly anticipated moments of the year. On the bus trip back from one of the final games, Scott, Conor, and I triumphantly announced our choices for the future Big Cats amid a chaotic flurry of cheers. You really HAD to be there to understand. Unbelievable. (Much, much more information on the Big Cats is available here.)
That JV season was filled with too many hilarious and ridiculous moments to mention, but some of the most notable included: Conor and Ross Pleban forgetting their pants on a two and a half hour road trip; the infamous trip to Hardees in which I inexplicably tossed roast beef across the restaurant; the absurdly juvenile, yet extremely passionate games of “I’m so hungry” that lasted over an hour; and of course, watching Coach Dinkins repeatedly miss the ball trying to hit pop flies.
The 11th grade year was an entirely different animal. We had both been relegated exclusively to reserve roles (Scott was technically on the team, but was best known for his scorekeeping duties), so our time off the field was even more important. It was during this season that one of the most brutal locker-room trashing battles took place. After exchanging shaving cream and taped locks with the JV squad throughout the season, the war came to a climax just before a varsity-only practice. After acquiring the locker combinations from a source who will remain nameless, several players a brief trip to the grocery store to pick up such necessary items as green ketchup, shaving cream, anchovies, a raw fish, baby powder, and many, many feet of athletic tape. One hour later, the locker room resembled the site of a battle between two opposing toxic waste plants. Unfortunately, our coach forced us to clean the entire locker room immediately following the trashing, with the exception of two lockers of our choice. And finally, two hours late, we practiced.
But when you talk about that season, you have to talk about the “Fun Zone.” Following every road game, the back of the bus was devoted exclusively to general chaos, stupidity, and of course the “Oh my Lord, Lord, Lord” tradition. In this absolutely ridiculous, yet somehow hilarious ritual, the “Reverend” Joe Leonard, our 3rd baseman, led the singing of this brief refrain. After each refrain, one member of the team would make some absurd comment, such as “You thought it was rain” or “Damnit Bach,” sending the team into a frenzy. Again, words simply cannot capture the Fun Zone.
Unfortunately, after the 11th grade season, it was time for Anders Larson the baseball player to call it quits, thus ending my memories from Scott’s illustrious baseball career.
And it will also unfortunately conclude the Scott Strickland High School Experience, an experience that covered everything from stabbing himself in the hand to hitting on cheerleaders to dealing with hard times at home and finally to the “Fun Zone.” These were certainly some of the best years we’ll ever have, and I hope I’ve broken y’all off a little somethin’-somethin’ to remember it by.
And finally, please excuse this friendship-ad style inside joke to Scott, but it simply had to be done: WAYYYYYYTAAAA BEEEEE!