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Hall of Fame Spotlight: Scott Larson

Posted: Monday, February 19, 2024 - 9:56 AM

HOF Class of 2024
Scott Larson Hall of Fame Headshot

Scott Larson

During a recent visit with Scott Larson at Apple Valley High School, he threw his hand backward and pointed his thumb to the massive display of Minnesota State High School League State Championships compiled by the Eagles over the past few decades. There’s a story with each trophy, complete with colorful memories of games, personalities and students that represented Apple Valley in a positive way.

Not once does Larson insert himself into a championship tale. He certainly could because he was the Eagles’ longtime activities director guiding the athletic program that amassed dozens of state championships. To Larson, accolades are reserved for students, that win or lose, chose to pursue co-curricular activities as a way to excel and represent Apple Valley High School.

“When I come back here, I do not have VIP parking or keys to the building,” Larson said with a smile. “I’m just like everybody else. Besides, they switched them all to digital, so my keys are no good anyway.”

Larson will be recognized for his administrative leadership as part of the League’s Hall of Fame Class of 2024 that will be inducted on Sunday, April 14 at the InterContinental St. Paul Riverfront Hotel. He is one of three administrators in the 12-member class.

“To be mentioned in the same breath as other Hall of Famers, is quite an honor,” he said. “It is in all of us, and we each play a role. It is nice to be recognized for whatever part that I did.”

Larson served in numerous roles in District 196 that includes Apple Valley, Eagan, Eastview and Rosemount high schools. He was the activities director at Eagan High School from 1990-96 and then in the same role at Apple Valley from 1996-2009. From 1975-1986, the White Bear Lake native was a Spanish Teacher, Assistant Football Coach, Assistant Girls Basketball Coach and Assistant Track and Field Coach at Rosemount. Sandwiched in there was a stint at Henry Sibley High School from 1986-1990 when he was the Assistant Principal and Head Football Coach. Larson, a 1970 graduate of White Bear Lake High School and 1974 graduate of the College of St. Thomas, started his teaching and coaching career at Brother Rice High School in Chicago.

In that Apple Valley trophy case, only state championship trophies are displayed. There is no room for section crowns. During 37 athletic seasons under Larson’s leadership, the Eagles:

· Won 33 Lake Conference Championships in 12 different sports.

· Won 46 Section Championships in 16 different sports.

· Had 38 Top Three finishes in 13 different sports.

· That includes 19 Team State Championships and 76 Individual State Champions.

· During his tenure, Apple Valley reached a state championship game or match 24 times with teams emerging with titles 19 times.

“Of course, there is much more involved in an Athletic Director’s world than just winning conference, section and state tournament games, matches or events,” said former Apple Valley principal Steve Degenaar. “Scott had the perfect personality to be a successful AD. He is very outgoing, he loves to talk, and he immediately solves problems whenever they pop up. . . Scott and others at Apple Valley High School, always believed that success in the Arts, Academics and Athletics almost always lead to success beyond high school. And that is what Scott is all about, preparing kids for the next chapter in their lives.”

Establishing connections with adult leaders began early for Larson. After father died in a car accident when he was in eighth grade, Larson was in need of support and guidance and he found it in an array of junior high school coaches and then leaders at the high school level.

“I was fortunate to have strong adult leaders that showed me how to be a good person and how to be a good teammate,” Larson said. “Those are coaches that forever changed who I was and kept me on the straight and narrow, and reminded me of the things I needed to do. I thought, someday, it would be great to be able to do the same thing and have that same effect on some others.”

Larson’s home in the late 1950’s was adjacent to a cornfield, the neighborhood destination for a multitude of kids. Whiffleball games, home run derbies, robust football games and basketball played on dirt streets that weren’t paved get neighborhood kids engaged until either the dinner bell rang or the streetlight was illuminated.

Larson didn’t have time to give much thought to life beyond being a kid. Like many youth, he had visions of being a fireman and that morphed into being a professional athlete. In high school, he played football, was on the track and field team and participated in curling. As a senior in high school, his dream of playing in the NFL gave way to a better reality of becoming a teacher and coach.

Prior to accepting the Apple Valley AD job, Larson sat down with his wife, Sue, and their children Brian and Kristin. He wanted their input as all three were important considerations. Of course, his wife for holding down the fort in his absence, and his children, who were students at Apple Valley High School.

“I asked them how they would feel if I was walking down the hall in your building, sharing your high school experience,” he recalled. “Both said it would be great. I remember my daughter wouldn’t look at me because she seemed embarrassed, but she was a senior at the time. My son thought I was a walking ATM and Uber driver like I was always prepared to drive him somewhere. I told him I can’t do those things like I had because I am working. I think they both got a glimpse of my world. Whether it was stopping by their table in the lunchroom or watching their games, that was a great experience for me. It was a gift for me and they tolerated it. I appreciate that.”

Former Apple Valley volleyball coach Walt Weaver, a League Hall of Fame inductee in 2007, had an uncanny way of relating to students.

“One could always find Scott in the hallways and in the lunchroom, connecting with students about their successes and setbacks, and their lives as a student-athlete in our school,” Weaver said. “At contests and elsewhere, he was an absolute master at confronting unacceptable behavior without it seeming personal. Unlike some who would not act at all or would wait until a situation was out of hand, Scott had an ability to pro-act before situations escalated.”

Larson’s service extended past the grounds of Apple Valley High School. He was the Region 3AA Executive Secretary for 15 years, served the League in numerous capacities and was inducted into the MnIAAA Hall of Fame in 2016.

Scott Larson Hall of Fame Action shot

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