By Leonard COUTIN
Tucked below the Angeles National Forest lies one of the most prestigious private schools in California, Flintridge Preparatory School. Founded in 1933 as an all-boys school it later transitioned to coeducation in 1979. Administrators and teachers encourage their students to take a front seat not only in the classroom, but also in the real world. This is the kind of philosophy that attracted the Van Scoter family to the school.
Flintridge Prep Director of Admissions Arthur Stetson recalls his first interview with future student Jack Van Scoter.
“Just having moved from Texas, [Jack] was a very likable, down-to-earth, and a good natured kid,” Stetson said.
The staff and students dubbed him “the unembarrassable Jack” due to his willingness to undertake any challenge and standing up for what he believed despite any social stigma.
After completing six years at Flintridge Prep, Van Scoter joined the cross-country team as a ninth grader. He credits Coach Ingrid Herskind for teaching him to find a style of running and then sticking to it.
“‘Run how you sprint’ is what I was told,” Van Scoter recalled. “Evidently, when I was in ninth grade my jogging form was trash, but my sprinting form was great. So I took her advice and I haven’t looked back since.”
Van Scoter also credited two teammates for putting him on the road to running. Alan Yoho and Tyler Fong were juniors at the time. They convinced him to start running and Van Scoter said they inspired him to be part of a team, which changed his life and goals significantly. As a senior, team captain Yoho was a runner to be modeled after who in his senior year won the Mt. SAC Sweepstakes and claimed the Division V title in cross-country. He and is his sister Sarah Yoho were both exceptional runners for Flintridge Prep.
Van Scoter reflected on many of the team’s successes.
“My senior year was definitely the pinnacle of our team’s achievement, but we had some good years leading up to that,” he said. “In 2012 our team was second in CIF Southern Section Division 5 and then second (by one point) at State D5. In 2013 we won Prep League and CIF SS D5, but then got fourth at State, our lowest point. In 2014 our team won League and was second in CIF SS D5 and then third at State (one of our athletes fell). Finally, in 2015 we ‘ran the table’ winning the Clovis Invite (a kind of pre-State), the Mt. SAC Invite, the Prep League, CIF SS D5, and State D5. Our team broke the state course record for our division wide open, and was ranked top 20 overall in the entire state across all divisions.”
Van Scoter credits consistent training with much of his success on the track.
“My workouts varied from longer distance tempos on trails to speed training repeats on the track,” he said. “I kept a pretty steady mileage throughout the year that stayed within the range of 45-65 miles a week. My mileage was fairly fast as well, as I tried to keep my pace on long runs and recovery days alike under 6:45 minutes per mile.”
It has been an unexpected journey for the Flintridge Prep graduate.
“I must say, life has no habit of giving itself away. If you had walked up to me on my last day in Texas, the day I sat alone in the stripped-bare bedroom of my childhood, and told me that I would enjoy California for all the right reasons, I would have waited for your punchline. If you told me then that I would legitimately enjoy school, swear off soda, meet a life-long role model, run my heart out, and fall in love over the six years that would follow, I don’t think I would have suppressed a chuckle then, nor a sob,” he said. “Sometimes I think about how differently my life would have been had I not come here; frankly, the thought sends me into a tailspin. I think it’s because the past six years have done amazing things for me, most of which I can never truly repay.
“Of all, my six years at Prep have made me love who I have come to be, the good and the bad. And they have taught me that future of my dreams is worth aiming for.”