After graduating at the top of his last semester at Southeast Junior High School in 1970, Freddie Scott had his future before he even considered playing football any more.
A standout receiver for the Southeast Panthers, Scott wasn’t planning to play at the college level until he reconnected with a friend with whom he attended summer camp at Amherst College (Mass.) a year earlier. This friend, an all-district player in his own right, talked Scott into joining the freshman team.
“I said, ‘Where’s the gym?'” “I will play basketball,” said Scott, a four-sport athlete at Southeast [athletic director] I asked my friend: Why don’t you get your gear? We count on you to play football. He replied, “Because my friend Freddie wants to play basketball.” So they made me play football not for me, but for him.
“If it weren’t for that, I might have been in the NBA for a few years.”
Scott turned wide receiver at Amherst, graduated with a pre-medical degree with ambitions to become a doctor, spent 10 seasons in the National Football League and another year in the Native American Football League before attending an education, taking another long road that took him back to Arkansas.
The latest award for Scott, 70, is a place in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, where he will be inducted on Friday. But his last influence is felt in the field of education.
These days, Scott, who lives in Little Rock, continues to serve his childhood home by co-organizing community thought leaders meetings at the Jefferson/Pine Bluff School District with fellow Pine Bluff School District alumnus Colonel Nate Todd, now a member of the University Board. Arkansas System Trustees.
“Anyone concerned about Pine Bluff should have a voice at the table,” said Scott, whose meetings are an extension of his day job as director of operations for the Arkansas Department of Education’s Engagement Unit.
The way Scott sees it, educational success can translate into economic strength in Pine Bluff and Jefferson County.
“Mr. Scott has been involved in youth development and I met him at a banquet for the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club,” said Todd. “We also talked and were at several places in the Arkansas Department of Education. I picked up this UALR magazine that was showing the Winthrop Rockefeller story and saw where Mr. Scott was Teen of the Year in 1970.”
Scott was pictured receiving a trophy from the then government. Rockefeller with his mother and Southeastern District Director W.T. Cheney in the audience.
Scott was born in Grady and moved to Pine Bluff at the age of 4. He attended Southeast, which was founded in 1958 and served black students on the east side of the Pine Bluff school district during segregation.
“We were in a position to have two schools, Merrill and Southeast,” Scott said. “There was this natural East Side versus West Side rivalry. Both schools had great talent, and the rivalry was justified because of that. I still have good Merrill friends who were phenomenal in sports and in life.”
Scott was also an all-city and all-county basketball player, ran the half-mile and a mile track and field and played center in baseball for the Panthers. He was a sophomore in 1967 when Southeast became the first black high school in Arkansas to defeat an all-white football team, St. Ann’s Academy at Fort Smith. The game was on the road, and Scott wasn’t on the travel list for that game.
“I was the second-string quarterback, up until my junior year, and I couldn’t play because of that [baseball great] Torrey Hunter’s dad was the maverick, so I didn’t step on the field much,” Scott said.
Scott finally saw extensive college action as a senior and was named co-captain of the Panthers.
Another Southeast alumnus, retired Pulaski County Circuit Judge Marion Humphrey, worked with A Better Chance, a nonprofit organization that helps youth of color attend private colleges and boarding schools, when Scott was approached about a “summer experience program” at Massachusetts College in 1969, Remember Scott.
My first trip was to Hartford [Conn.]Then I was bussed to Amherst, Scott said. “I received a scholarship to go to Choate School in Wallingford, Connecticut, and decided because they wanted me to go for at least two years because I was graduating from a public high school in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, to a private prep school, they felt I was going to be late because I was going to start football. I chose stay here [in Pine Bluff] And I graduated, taking first place in my class. Pays off to come back and finish.”
Scott applied to Amherst and was accepted. Not long after enlisting, he suited up for the Mammoths football team, with only sophomores, juniors, and seniors eligible to make the varsity team.
Fortunately for the team, Scott was a rare gem waiting to shine on the court.
He set career school records for 143 receptions for 2,336 yards and 27 touchdowns (including a single-season record 12 in 1972), was named New England College Division Player of the Year, and named the Eastern College Athletic Conference A two-time All-Star and pick him up a bit. All Americans.
Scott was selected in the seventh round of the 1974 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Colts and played with the team for four seasons. He was traded to the Detroit Lions in 1978 and stayed with the franchise for six years before moving to the USFL’s Los Angeles Express to finish his career in 1984. Scott was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.
Back to education
Dr. Robert Smith, one of the advisors to the Future Doctors Club of the Southeast, convinced the younger Scott to consider becoming a doctor because he was good at math and science. Scott received his premedical degree from Amherst and was accepted to medical school.
“If it weren’t for football, I probably would be a practicing orthopedic surgeon by now,” Scott said.
It wasn’t until football was over that Scott was able to put his science skills to good use. Living in Miami, he is hired to teach middle school science for two years, and high school science for another year.
“Education was in my heart,” Scott said. “Like in medicine, I wanted to give back and care for people. I also had this passion for students.”
Scott accepted a job in technology at IBM in Michigan, and later had the opportunity to work with an independent school management organization there.
Scott returned to Arkansas in 2011 and served on the board of directors for a private school called Little Rock Preparatory Academy, but returned to work full-time as Director of Operations for Exalt Academy in Little Rock. The state Department of Education later hired Scott to start a charter school office. He then moved to the Public Schools Office of Accountability and is now in Family and Community Engagement, using that role to bring together education leaders and other stakeholders in Jefferson County.
“Districts and schools clearly have a role to play in children’s education, but success in school, in life, and in the workplace requires not only school districts but also that families understand their role in education and working with the school, but also education partners,” Scott said. “My approach is to get a group of thought leaders in different fields together and start having meaningful discussions about what quality education looks like. This obviously speaks to the need to nurture community development. It is difficult for a business owner to come to a particular community if the education sector is not working. “.
But with Scott leading, Todd is convinced that Pine Bluff and Jefferson County are in a new era of prosperity.
“Mr. Scott stands for community excellence and his commitment to Pine Bluff and Jefferson County ensures continued excellence,” Todd said.