Summer is supposed to be a time to relax and have fun to re-energize for the everyday grind ahead in the fall. But in 2023, it was anything but fun for many in the North Shore sports community after it lost two longtime respected sportswriters, Jean DePlacido and Scot Cooper.
For me, sadness never took a day off this summer. My dad — Joseph, Sr. — passed away on July 11, just two days after Jean left us. Five days earlier, she was writing on Hamilton-Wenham’s dominating win over the Danvers Nationals to begin the District 15 Williamsport Tournament, arguably one of her favorite beats to cover every year — next to St. John’s Prep sports, of course.
But she could write on any subject from marathons to a youth soccer team’s national championship, just a couple of more stories she cranked out during what turned out to be her final week on this planet.
Jean was a writing machine, and she did it with professionalism and graciousness, two words that are seldom used together nowadays when describing the media in general. She never used a tape recorder or iPhone to record her interviews after games. She had her signature legal pad to copy down a coach’s or a player’s words, but nobody ever said they were misquoted, because she knew what was important and what they were trying to say. Not to see that infamous legal pad ever again after games will be a stark reminder to all of her colleagues like myself that life as a reporter will never be the same again.
Bruce Scot Lance Cooper, simply known as “Scot” or “Coop” to his hundreds of friends, has been documenting North Shore sports continuously for close to 15 years. He first wrote and shot video (his true passion as a broadcast journalist) for the local Patch outlets.
He then moved on to GateHouse Media, where I first got to know him as a Marblehead and Swampscott sports correspondent, two towns he knew quite well as a loyal Big Blue graduate who ended up marrying the love of his life, Whitney, a Marblehead native.
Their two sons, Jake and Maxx, played sports through the encouragement of their dad, who made sure he covered the American Legion Marblehead-Swampscott baseball Mariners when they were on the team. He got to watch them play while also chronicling their diamond exploits.
Scot, who died on Aug. 5 after fighting cancer for several years, last wrote for me last fall, covering the football Magicians as a Current correspondent. His cancer then returned before the start of the spring season, and he was unable to write about the boys lacrosse and softball teams, two of his favorites every year.
Scot left those of us who depended upon his writing on a timely basis for print at a loss. As editors, we knew we’d have his game story before the deadline, with his videos arriving immediately after games so online readers get to see and hear the players’ and coaches’ reactions right away. He was a dream freelancer, who knew the importance of meeting those deadlines in both mediums, even on family holidays like Thanksgiving.
In the ensuing text, girls softball coach Johnny Gold, MHS assistant athletic director and former hockey coach Mark Tarmey, football coach Jim Rudloff and girls basketball coach Paul Moran fondly remembered both Scot and Jean, and what they meant to high school sports in Marblehead and beyond for decades.
MHS athletic director Mark Tarmey
“It was always a pleasure to run into Jean at the field, rink, court, track, pool or gym. She was a kind, genuine and talented professional.
“I really admired her ‘no nonsense’ approach to sports reporting, and I was very impressed by how she was an advocate for young female student-athletes across the North Shore.
“We will miss seeing her at MHS (Marblehead High School) and NEC (Northeastern Conference) events with her signature notepad and field chair. But we are all better people for having known and worked alongside her for decades.
“Scot Cooper and I had a great 50-year personal and professional relationship starting back at Red Foote’s Hockey School at the old Lynn Arena in the 1970s. We played hockey together through and after college, and we had many, many laughs and great times together during our years at UMass-Amherst.
“On the professional side, it was always such a great pleasure to interact with Coop as he did such an outstanding job covering Marblehead High School athletics for various North Shore media outlets. His frequent texts, voicemails and emails were always informative and highly entertaining. He had his finger directly on the pulse of North Shore athletics, and as a result of his death on Aug. 5 we have certainly lost a great sportswriter, ambassador, advocate and friend. I feel so very blessed to call him a friend.”
MHS girls basketball coach Paul Moran
“Jean was such a great lady and was a huge presence for girls sports on the North Shore. You knew when she showed up to a game it was a big game. She will be missed by many, and was a great advocate for women’s sports.
“Scot was a great guy. I always loved our phone calls. He always had a lot of patience with me on spelling the girls’ names correctly. He’d say, ‘You talk, and I’ll fix everything up.’ He grew up with my brothers, and they always said great things about him. He always did a great job for me as far as getting the story and scores correct. He was just a great reporter and will be missed by the North Shore.”
MHS football coach Jim Rudloff
“I never was fortunate enough to deal with Jean that much. She would call me for scores a couple of times early on, but in the last eight years or so she has never really covered Marblehead football.
“But Scot is a different story. I met Scot when I was in college going to see bands in Boston. He was friends with the Swampscott band called Things That Aren’t Food. Coop really loved the local music scene. I don’t think he ever missed a show by The Neighborhoods or the Bags. Fast forward 20 years later, and he’d walk up to me after a football game, and he’d start asking me questions about Swampscott.
“Coop did a great job making sure he got all the kids’ names in his stories. He always accurately described the game and its flow. There was a little element of entertainment and humor in all of his articles and tweets. I know for me personally and the Marblehead football community in general, we will miss Scot a ton this fall.”
MHS softball coach Johnny Gold
“Both were two wonderful people and great reporters. Coop would come to the field a lot to get coaches’ and players’ quotes and local updates.
“Jean was very special. She worked hard, and an example of that was her in-season Friday column. Her game-day reporting was also great. She never misquoted and always treated us fairly and equally, win or lose. She understood when we lost there was not a lot to say, but instead she’d find the good in it.
“Both were wonderful, and I, along with the softball community, will miss them. I wish I had the opportunity to thank them. I’d tell them both that they did their jobs very well.”
MHS girls lacrosse coach Annie Madden
“Scot (Cooper) was a dedicated and loyal high school sports fan. He always went out of his way to make sure that all of our players felt like they were rock stars. Marblehead was lucky to have such a great guy to help highlight its successes over the years.
“My fondest memory of Jean (DePlacido) was being a young coach who knew her from the sidelines at my father’s (football) games, and she would come sit in her chair at midfield — neutral as always — but still always gave me a smile of encouragement. She not only loved the players both past and present, but she also loved all of the North Shore coaches.”
Coop’s life to be celebrated Sept. 9
In Marblehead, Scot was well-known among the Magicians sports community. He treated everybody fairly and with respect. On Sept. 9 at the Gerry 5 at 2 p.m., there will be a celebration of Scot’s life for his many friends to share their stories about this music lover, sports fanatic and local sports media giant.