Cross country, track and field coach retires

After 48 years of coaching, Coach Scott Chisam is finally hanging up the spikes.


Irina Malyugina

“At Harker, every year, I just really enjoy coaching everybody, enjoy having the people around, we don’t have a lot of pains in the [butts],” Chisam said.

by Erica Cai and Eric Fang

Standing in the center of Blackford’s track with a baseball cap over his head, Scott Chisam chats with a few seniors as the other runners finish their warm-up lap and sit cross-legged in front of him in the grass. Once everyone settles down, he launches into the week’s agenda in a calm yet energized voice, occasionally teasing the team.    

As head coach of both Harker’s cross country and track and field teams, Scott Chisam is no stranger to running sports. Even extending beyond his five-year tenure as a Harker coach, Chisam has been working with track athletes for 48 years, initiating the Arcadia Invitational when he was a coach at Arcadia High School, and working with Olympic athletes at the University of California at Los Angeles, such as Florence Griffith Joyner who set the 1988 world record in both the 100-meter and the 200-meter dashes.

After transitioning to Harker and growing increasingly involved in the school’s track program, Chisam eventually became the head coach for the school’s cross country and track teams and appreciates Harker’s unique environment in comparison to his past schools.

“I think the interaction with the students and the parents [is my favorite part about working here],” Chisam said. “It seems that at Harker, every year, I just really enjoy coaching everybody, enjoy having the people around.”

“I that the one good thing about track and cross country [is that] it’s very individual, but at the same time, there’s a place for everybody. ”

— Scott Chisam

Senior Noah Lincke, who has been a member of the cross country team for four years, admires Chisam’s awareness and enthusiasm toward his team. 

“He’s really understanding of the Harker community, and he knows there’s varying degrees that people are into track and cross country,” Noah said. He’s helped people get into the states and championships if you’re aiming for that and also just if you’re trying to get out and run for exercise.”

Despite the thrill and glory of watching his team win medals and trophies, Chisam also enjoys witnessing the growth of students throughout a season.

“I have had fun watching [varsity] athletes who [on] the first day of cross country practice could not make it the mile and a half run to the barn without stopping and walking,” he said. “I think that’s the one good thing about track and cross country: it’s very individual, but at the same time, there’s a place for everybody.”

With an extensive career like his, Chisam has left his mark on the cross country and track community.

“When I first realized who the Harker head cross country and track coach was, I was honestly awestruck,” Amy Varsell, the new assistant cross country coach, said. “Coach Chisam has an incredible list of accolades. People routinely stop me at meets to tell me how lucky I am to work with him.” 

After departing from Harker, Chisam plans to move to El Dorado Hills with his wife in order to spend more time with his family.

He is a true family man [and] is looking forward to spending time closer to his grandchildren so that he can see them grow up, take them fishing and do their activities as they age,” Roberta Chisam, his wife, said.

However, Chisam’s family extends much farther in the community, as he is still connected to his former students and even their children.

“I will be at a track meet somewhere and one of my former athletes will come up from the sides and say, ‘Mr. Chisam! Mr. Chisam!’ and it’s just I haven’t seen them in 30-40 years, so that’s always been a thrill,” he said. “When I [find out] they have children that are running track and field, I call ’em my ‘grand runners,’ they’re special.”

For his last track season, Chisam looks forward to coaching everyone, especially the seniors, who he has been with throughout their four years of high school. He plans to work hard as he has done every year “to go out with a bang.”

“When you come up with the number 48 years of track coaching, it goes back to first coaching at Arcadia high school. To be able to coach at UCLA, to be able to coach at Stanford University and really to be able to coach at Harker has been a privilege, and I hope that I lived up to Harker expectations. Watching you guys in cross country this year, I think I did, I think we had a team of very fine young men and young women that represent the school,” Chisam said.

This piece was originally published in the pages of the Winged Post on Feb. 20, 2019.