Before boarding the team bus for a road trip, each Johns Hopkins lacrosse player received a handshake and a word of encouragement from athletic director Bob Scott, an icon in their sport since before many of the Blue Jays were born.
"While we looked at him a certain way, as larger than life, he didn't look at himself that way," recalled Dave Pietramala, who grew from one of those players into the current men's lacrosse coach at Hopkins.
Scott, who left a lasting mark on Johns Hopkins as a national championship-winning coach and humble mentor to countless coaches and athletes, died Thursday of complications from Parkinson's disease.
The lifelong Baltimore resident, who had regarded Hopkins as a second home since he arrived on the Homewood campus as an undergraduate, died at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. He was 86.
Though Hopkins' lacrosse dominance traced back to the late 19th century, Scott won as relentlessly as any coach in university history.
He graduated from Hopkins in 1952 after serving as captain of the lacrosse and football teams, became men's lacrosse coach in 1955 and won his first national title in 1957. He won his seventh in 1974, his last season as coach. His overall coaching record was 158-55-1.
Scott, who also coached football, basketball, wrestling and soccer at Hopkins, became the university's athletic director in 1973 and held that job until he retired in 1995.
"You're not going to find someone who ever meant more to a university," said Pietramala, who met Scott when he took his first recruiting visit to the campus in the 1980s.
"He was the conscience of the university," said Jerry Schnydman, who played for Scott and went on to become a top administrator and secretary to the board of trustees at Hopkins.
Scott was a giant in the sport but often said to Pietramala, "I'm just an old timer from Forest Park, Dave."
He remembered every player and co-worker's name and often the names of fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters. When Pietramala visited him in the hospital a few days before his death, Scott's first question was about Pietramala's father, George.
Scott came to Hopkins from Forest Park High School in the fall of 1948.
"He was a true ambassador for lacrosse," said Bill Tanton, 85, former sports editor of The Evening Sun who played with Scott at Hopkins. "He was a skinny little guy, 145 pounds, but his heart and hustle made up for that. Bob took his lumps but I never saw him get carried from the field."
Scott's own children and grandchildren grew up around the Hopkins program.
"He loved his family, Hopkins and the game of lacrosse, though the order could change every now and then," said his daughter, Susan Bracken, of Towson.
Another daughter, Nancy Mohler, starred at Maryland as a defender and helped the Terps win a national championship in 1986. After the title game, an 11-10 victory over Penn State, Scott stood by himself at the top of Byrd Stadium with tears in his eyes.
"I can't believe I rooted for Maryland to win a lacrosse championship," he told family.
Schnydman, one of 42 first-team All Americans who played for him, recalled that Scott and his late wife, Margo, often had players over for dinner. The Blue Jays knew their coach so well that it was easy to transition to friendship with him after they stopped playing.
But he was plenty demanding. When the players arrived in the locker room each day, they found a practice schedule taped to the wall with each drill delineated down to the minute.
"He laid out how we should act and how we should play," Schnydman said. "If we did something stupid, he let us know in no uncertain terms, though he was never demeaning."
Scott believed in straightforward formula — work hard, tell the truth and behave like a gentleman. "It all comes out in the wash," he liked to say, meaning you couldn't cheat the system.
As a coach, fire and brimstone were never his schtick, said Dick Watts, an All-American defenseman who graduated from Hopkins in 1956.
"The worst he'd get was an expression on his face that let you know you weren't doing the right thing," said Watts, whose coach was best man at his wedding.
By the time he recruited Schnydman from City College in 1963, Scott was already a major figure in the game.
"Back then there were only a handful of great teams, so I knew he was a legend before I even met him," Schnydman said. "It was like God himself was talking to me."
Beyond his success at Hopkins, Scott grew into a national and international ambassador for lacrosse. In 1976, he published the first edition of "Lacrosse: Technique and Tradition," which would serve as a key teaching manual for several generations of coaches.
He helped introduce the sport to Japan through a Hopkins alumnus who lived there. He did not view the trip as a lark, Schnydman said. From the moment he arrived, Scott threw his Japanese charges into passing, catching, shooting and scooping drills.
He felt deeply gratified when he returned a year later to find the Japanese had mastered his drills.
"He saw the larger world, and he wanted to share this gift that he had found here in the sport he loved," Pietramala said.
Despite declining health in recent years, Scott never complained, said Mohler, of Leesburg, Va.
"On Wednesday, we asked him, 'Dad, are you okay?' And he said, 'I'm fine,' " she said. "Then we cried and he said, 'I had a blessed life.' "
Said Bracken, "He's probably starting a team up in heaven."
Besides his daughters, Scott is survived by four grandchildren.
The university, which had already planned to unveil a statue of Scott at Homewood Field on Oct. 15, will hold an on-campus memorial service for the longtime coach next month, though Scott's family said that arrangements are still in progress.