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Texas Tech Graduate Honors Olympian and Former Head Coach Jarvis Scott


Former Head Coach of Texas Tech Women's Track and Field, Jarvis Scott. | Image from Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

When Jarvis Scott recruited her to the track team at Texas Tech in 1986 from Andress High School in El Paso, Amanda Banks was not aware how much the Olympian and first African American head coach at the university truly cared about the students she scouted.

“Coach Scott had folders on all of us, but it wasn’t until after she passed away that I really went through the folders and saw where she had actually traveled to El Paso to watch us run,” Banks told the Dallas Express. “She clipped out the results from particular track meets in El Paso, she kept photos and correspondence from our parents, and she wrote notes to herself about us.”

Unbeknownst to Banks at the time, Scott had traveled to her high school to track the students she would soon be awarding scholarships.

“I came on a partial scholarship, and the following year it was increased to a full scholarship thanks to Coach Scott,” Banks said in an interview. “She would have loved to recruit the blue-chip top athletes in the country, but she really believed she could pull it out of those who weren’t if they had the work ethic.”

Banks graduated from Texas Tech in 1990, and Scott, who won the 1968 Olympic trials, died in 2017 at 70 years old.

“She took a nap and never woke up,” Banks said. “About six months before her death, Coach Scott said that we should take our files if anything happened to her.”

Banks, who has written a book about Scott and is now trying to have the files displayed at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., marvels at her coach and mentor’s level of humility.

“What many people still do not know today is that Coach Scott gave up her spot in the 800-meter race to a white girl prior to the Olympics in a move of solidarity because of all of the racial tensions that were going on at that time,” she said.

That humility prevented the trailblazer from becoming too visible.

“She didn’t speak much about giving up her spot,” Banks said. “I think she didn’t talk a lot about it because it made some people angry that she did that because of the racial turmoil. But Coach Scott didn’t regret it regardless of how others felt. She believed in her heart that she did what she was supposed to do. She wasn’t a flashy woman. She really was selfless.”

The star athlete could have chosen a more illustrious profession but instead dedicated her life to scouting and coaching high school students from El Paso, which Banks said was uncommon at the time for track and field.

“She recruited from El Paso because it was close to Lubbock, relatively speaking, and she could drive when she wasn’t flying,” Banks added. “The budget at that time for women’s programs, especially women’s track and field, at Texas Tech was little to nothing.”