father and daughter

The Man, the Myth, the Legend: My Father Scott Tolley

As a writer or aspiring journalist, you get the opportunity to interview individuals that will leave an impact on your life. Life came full circle when I got to interview the man who taught me my love for writing and has left an impact on my life in more ways than I can count. I’ve always been in awe of my dad’s way with words and poetic speaking. I grew up hearing his stories and it was always inspiring to me how he could formulate pieces of writing that could grab the attention of everyone in the room. He always encouraged me to find my own path in life, but I always knew my path in life would be closely related to his.

My father Scott Tolley grew up in a small town in central Virginia where he spent the majority of his young days playing football. He carried his athletic talents to James Madison University. During his time there, he realized that his future wouldn’t consist of football and he turned his focus to sports writing. In a short amount of time, he became the Assistant Sports Editor for the school newspaper The Breeze and in the following year became the lead Sports Editor. In his senior year, he was voted “Collegiate Sports Writer of the Year.” It was clear that he had a knack for sports writing. After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in communications with a concentration in journalism, he found a job writing for a newspaper back in his hometown. In Aug. of 1989, he took a chance and left his small town in Virginia and the newspaper he had been writing with for four years to pursue a career in South Florida writing for The Palm Beach Post. He ended up writing for them for eight years and covered everything from major league baseball to the Florida State Seminoles. His last position in his journalism career was as National Golf Writer for The Palm Beach Post. At this position, he got introduced to Jack Nicklaus, a world-renowned golfer. My father has been working for Jack for the past 24 years and is currently his manager and Executive Vice President of the Nicklaus Family office.

Her Campus (HC): What is your favorite thing about being a father?

Scott Tolley (ST): It’s probably just every now and then getting the realization that you’re responsible for three lives in this world and they are representative of you. That is really special because we talk about legacy in our lives and wanting to leave the world a better place than we found it. I think with having children, particularly three children that I’m enormously proud of, I feel like no matter what happens to me I’ve left a legacy because of them and they’re going to help shape the world for the next generation. That is an enormous responsibility, but a source of pride.

HC: What have you learned in your years of working?

ST: You are truly rewarded for hard work and loyalty. Don Shula once said, “If you’re going to be an athlete and a player on my team, there are two qualities you need: one is ability and the second is loyalty.” In every situation, loyalty is more important than ability. If you’re loyal to an employer and dedicate yourself to them, more often than not that comes back to you. I am learning that you also have to have balance. I have a boss that made a commitment to his wife and his family to never have his kids grow up not knowing him. When I could, I dedicated my time to my kids and what they were interested in. I think it’s important that a parent that’s working also finds balance because you need it for your family life, but it also makes you a happier employee in your work life.

HC: What keeps you motivated to work? 

ST: In my particular situation, I find that knowing that I have the ability to really bring something special into somebody’s world via my work really means a lot to me. I am in a unique situation where I represent an iconic athlete and what I help facilitate makes a lot of people really happy. I have to pinch myself sometimes when I realize who I work for and how other people view him. I’ve been blessed to meet a lot of wonderful people, whether it’s Nelson Mandela, Presidents or musicians, and I don’t take that for granted.

Newspapers Photo by Waldemar Brandt from Unplash

HC: What was your first thought when I told you I wanted to be a writer? 

ST: It was bittersweet. I was honored because I feel like in some ways it was because of the exposure I gave you of this craft (and maybe something genetic). I also worried about how you would use your writing. I’ve become disillusioned with some of print journalism, and I was worried you would go down the newspaper route. I’ve since then realized that you have bigger and better aspirations. There’s an enormous sense of pride that you wanted to pursue something that involved the craft of writing. Having read your work, I’ve realized that’s what you’re suited for in some form or fashion. You’re an excellent writer; it makes me proud.

HC: What is one piece of advice someone has told you that has stuck with you till today? 

ST: Everyone, no matter what they do in life, should learn how to effectively communicate. We are in a world today where we are sort of dictated by social media and a lot of people have lost the art of writing. There is nothing more impactful than being able to effectively communicate with someone.

HC: Besides being a father, what is your biggest accomplishment in life? 

ST: There is no greater accomplishment than my family, my marriage and my children. Outside of that, I was a product of a very small town in central Virginia. While it was a big part of my personality and character, it didn’t necessarily define me or confine me. I always aspired to be something more, do something more. I took a chance at the age of 25 and left my small newspaper back home. One night, I was sitting at my desk in the newsroom and a story came across that said: “Fasting growing newspaper in the country is The Palm Beach Post.” I said, “That’s where I need to go.” I packed up my Ford Fiesta and drove to South Florida with no job and really no place to live. I walked into The Palm Beach Post and said, “Here’s my resume.” To take a chance and have it pay off, is something I am very proud of. I took another big chance when I left the world of journalism to try something totally different in the corporate world. 24 years later, I think I’ve had a good level of success. I’ve been blessed to work with someone that will go down as one of the greatest sportsmen.

HC: As a father to one, what advice would you give to a young girl? 

ST: Never compromise who you are. Don’t let someone else tell you who you need to be. I think that’s important for anybody, but it’s especially important for a woman. We are in a world where men still get the greater percentage of the great opportunities, so a woman should never compromise herself for those opportunities. 

HC: What is one thing you want to experience in your lifetime?

ST: I want to one day be able to walk down the aisle with my daughter. I want to be able to see all my kids be in happy relationships and experience the joy of being a parent. I want them to enjoy what I have and see that on their face and know they’re fulfilled with their family and personal life.

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