“It freaked me out,” Severin said. “No, you’re supposed to be at school, not in my house!”
This basketball season, Winters Scott, 44, is all but unavoidable to her Seahawks, particularly if they are channel-surfing basketball junkies. Not only does she coach the girls’ basketball team at her alma mater, she is a studio host of the Washington Wizards’ pregame show on Comcast SportsNet and works as a college basketball analyst, calling about 20 games this season for ESPNU and other outlets. She also does color commentary for the Washington Mystics during the WNBA season.
Her players never know when they will run across that familiar voice extolling a player on the screen to “put a body on a body” or “look for your shot” or “you have to front ’em,” or any of the other pat phrases she uses with her team.
Hearing and seeing their coach on TV can make the Seahawks feel special. Or it can make them feel like they’re under constant surveillance.
“We come home from a practice or something and an hour later we turn on the TV and it’s like there’s Coach Scott all over again,” junior guard Caitlin Jensen said.
During one recent stretch, Winters Scott worked a game at North Carolina State on Thursday, coached her team in a game Friday, did the studio show for the Wizards in Bethesda on Saturday, caught a 7 a.m. flight to work a game at Florida State on Sunday, worked a game at Howard on Monday and then coached her team Tuesday night.
“When you’re in it and doing it . . . it’s life. It isn’t necessarily work,” said Winters Scott, who has three children in elementary school and is married to former South Lakes All-Met basketball player Jerome Scott. “All of it involves basketball. It’s not like I’m outside of my passion. So for me, it’s a way of life.”
Winters Scott, the 1986 All-Met Player of the Year on an undefeated South Lakes team and a member of the University of Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame, has previously worked as a color commentator on college games during the high school season.
The Wizards assignment is new and was too good of an opportunity to pass up for someone who wrote a paper in high school about how she wanted to become a broadcaster.
Winters Scott had backburnered her broadcasting aspirations while working as a college assistant for 10 years at Maryland, George Mason and Georgetown. Her hectic TV and coaching schedule, outlined along with family activities on a kitchen calendar, is a more family-friendly setup than when she was a college assistant. Then she could be out of town for days at a time. As a broadcaster, she can fly or drive home after games or early the next morning to rejoin her family and team.
“[Giving up the college job] wasn’t as painful as seeing my kids in the window as I was leaving the house,” said Winters Scott, who also is camp director for the Wizards and Mystics. “If I have to choose one, I’m going to choose the faces.”
There are days, however, when the children might see their mom’s face more on TV than at home. Jordan used to talk to his mother on the screen and wonder why she wouldn’t respond to him. And now?
“They would probably prefer to watch cartoons,” joked the elder Jerome, who played at the University of Miami and has an accounting job with regular hours that enables him to mind Jerome Jr., 11; Brianna, 9; and Jordan, 5.
Winters Scott’s mother, Janice, 74, lives two-tenths of a mile away in the same Reston subdivision as her daughter and watches the kids when needed.
Winters Scott is one of the more conspicuous coaches in Northern Virginia, not only because of her TV gig but because of her demonstrative nature and sharp wardrobe with heels the length of miniature golf pencils.
She has missed three games and some practices because of scheduling conflicts, including a holiday tournament championship win over West Springfield, a team that had beaten South Lakes early in the season.
“That was when I wanted to be two separate people,” she recalled, wiping away tears. “If there’s something I would want to do over if I could, it would be just to see their faces when the buzzer went off. I know it’s not easy for them either. I’ve never had a situation as a player where the coach wasn’t there. So I appreciate the support that they’ve given me through that.”
Instead of feeling abandoned or questioning their eighth-year coach’s commitment, the Seahawks see her busy basketball life more as something to shoot for than something to resent.
“She has a lot of responsibilities and jobs,” senior guard-forward Gabrielle Schultz said. “It makes the team feel more valuable because we fit into her schedule. This was her dream when she was in high school, so it’s inspirational to see that she’s achieving that dream.”