April 28, 2011
Century of Change ticket/RSVP information
Jennifer Bruce Scott is the second leading scorer in Pitt basketball history - men's or women's. The 1985 Kodak All-American, who played for the Lady Panthers from 1981-85, scored 2,295 points over her stellar career.
Today, she is still ranked in the Pitt women's basketball record book in a number of categories including: field goals made (1st), rebounds (5th), blocked shots (3rd), and steals (7th). Bruce Scott , who graduated in 1986 from Pitt with a degree in nursing, has worked in the health care field in Western Pennsylvania since 1989. She has a daughter, Shayla (21) and a son, Tyler (17). Bruce Scott will serve as a dinnner co-chair for the Century of Change celebration on May 10.
Q: What do you remember most when you think back on your time at the University of Pittsburgh?
A: I was very fortunate to be able to play on a full athletic scholarship. My experience with Pitt women's basketball was amazing and I felt that we were on the fringe of starting something big in the Big East. We joined after my first year and I think the conference gave us so much more as competition and added notoriety to the University.
My teammates and I were lucky enough to be a part of the Big East. That was a big deal to play in a major conference. The other thing that changed for me personally is that I had to switch from a regular sized basketball to a smaller one. I used to play with the boys in my neighborhood.
I compare my experience to (my daughter) Shayla. She played for a major University, also going to Pitt. As I see her and her teammates, it does remind me when I played. Times have changed quite a bit even from my days, things like the three-point line and more points being scored. Nowadays, players can continue their playing careers overseas or in the WNBA - we didn't have that (opportunity).
Q: More than 25 years later, you are still ranked as the No. 2 leading scorer at Pitt. What does that mean to you?
A: I don't like to talk about it because at times I feel as if I am defending it. Lorri Johnson, who played for my brother (former head coach Kirk Bruce) is No. 1 and both the point totals we put up still stand (today). That is amazing that two females each topped 2,000 points.
I didn't think about it as much then - now, perhaps I think about it more because I am older; and you talk about records and past experiences more freely. I texted an AAU coach recently to give my email address and my email has (the numbers) `2295' in it which is how many points I scored in college. Not too many people know that (Lorri and I are No. 1 and No. 2 on both sides) and it an amazing accomplishment. It's a great feeling that I was able to score points and also help my team be successful.
Q: Your daughter Shayla just completed her four-year career at Pitt - how bittersweet was it to watch your child play at your alma mater?
A: We talked about this when she was making her decision (where to play collegiately). It was her decision and she was a homebody and wanted to stick around for her family to watch her play. It was an honor to know she was playing for the same University (I did). From a team standpoint, her teams were much more successful than mine. That's an accomplishment within itself and if I would have taken back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances over my personal accomplishments at any time. I think people didn't necessarily realize how amazing it was that she followed me to Pitt - there are not a lot, just a handful of mother-daughter tandems. It is amazing to share experiences with her. And we did have lot of similarities as student-athletes. The camaraderie at a University among its athletes is always the same and I saw that Shayla had much the same experiences,; friendships with others athletes as I did.
Q: How important is it for individuals to turn out for the Century of Change event at Pitt on May 10?
A: I having been thinking about people like Mr. (Herb) Douglas who paved the way. I ran into an old friend recently at my son's AAU event and he and I were on the same traveling team. I was telling him about the event and he said, `how cool is that, 100 years the first black athlete at Pitt.'
One hundred years ago it had to be extremely tough for African-Americans in general, much less being an athlete at a major University. I am very excited to be a part of it and Shayla will also attend because I think she needs to see the generations that came before her because the trials and tribulations that they went through do not exist for the black athlete right now. Some problems may exist in some capacity, but it's nowhere near the same as what they went through to establish themselves as an athlete period. I think the event is huge for the entire University and for African-American culture.
My dad (Clarence Bruce) who played for the Homestead Grays (in the late 1940's) was a great player and athlete in his time. One of those athletes you have to wonder whether could he have made in the (big) league, who knows? I always wonder why is so tough for the African-American athlete? This event gives us an opportunity to celebrate all our accomplishments - together for one night.
This is the third of a series of interviews with former Pitt African-American student-athletes, leading up to the event "Athletics at Pitt: The Forefront of a Century of Change" on May 10.