In remembrance of Scotty Lapp (extended version)

Chloe Bishop

“I never knew a big teenager could be cool and nice at the same time,” Amy Lapp said, reading a note from a young neighbor of Scotty Lapp as they reflected on Scotty’s impact during his lifetime. 

Scotty grew up in Tiburon, attending Reed and Bel Aire Elementary Schools, before attending Saint Hilary’s for middle school. He began high school at Redwood and then transitioned to living full-time in Tahoe in August 2021 to pursue his passion for skiing, where he attended North Tahoe High School. Scotty passed away in a skiing accident on the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 13.

After only one year at Redwood, Scotty managed to touch his academic community, including his Academic Workshop teacher Beth deCarion.

“From the very moment that I met Scotty and his family, they were like a dream,” deCarion said. “You knew Scotty, and you loved him. There was nothing not to like about him. He was a special, special human.”  

Scotty’s courageousness and outgoing personality left deCarion in awe. 

“He was in the Humanitas program with Ms. Flores and Mr. Hart [and] it was a very rigorous class for students, in a great way,” deCarion said. “In my experience, that class often made students nervous, [but] he never got nervous … He lived his life in a fearless way.”

Photo courtesy of Amy Lapp

The confidence that Scotty brought to Redwood followed him to Tahoe and was expressed through a sense of creativity, unique only to him. Egan McInerney, a best friend of Scotty since second grade and a ski teammate, was always inspired by his distinct style.

“What he wore, the way he skied, [it] wasn’t like what anyone else did. He made his own path and did what he wanted, [he] didn’t care what anyone else thought was cool or not,” McInerney said. “I think his mind worked differently than anyone else’s. You couldn’t mimic what he was doing.”

Scotty’s mother, Amy, felt similar as she reflected on his life.

“[When] most kids were doing backflips, he would go sideways [or] put his hand on the ground,” Amy said. 

But Scotty’s creativity was also apparent off the mountain and in all aspects of his life.

“Scotty loved photography and putting together edits of his friends when they were skiing, [skateboarding,] wakeboarding or rock climbing, [which] are all sports he loved. And he was a good poet … Creativity just oozed out of him,” Amy said. 

However, Scotty’s most admirable traits were his kindness, optimistic attitude and love for others. 

“[During] the last competition run that Scotty did the morning before he died, he came off a jump and didn’t land [it.] His ski fell off, and it was stuck at a 45-degree angle in the snow. Where most kids would be really upset, he stuck his arm up in the air and was so pumped,” Amy said. “What’s amazing [is that] we’ve had one competition since then, and I’ve seen a real change in the kids’ attitudes when they wipe out or don’t stick a landing.” 

Photo courtesy of Tahoe Freeride

Since Scotty’s death, it’s clear kids have embraced his optimism as they cheer each other on, just as Scotty always did. Not only was he a skilled athlete, but he was also a supportive community member and friendly face.

“I’m getting letters from [his] high school in Tahoe saying how he touched them,” Amy said. “I read a [letter from a] kid from [Scotty’s] school that said, ‘No one ever knew my first name. And you knew my first name. And you always said hello to me. You’ll never know how much that meant.’”

Redwood sophomore Ashley Martin met Scotty in 2020, and she immediately saw something special in him. 

“Every time you talked to him, he talked to you as if you guys had been best friends for 40 years. He talked to you as if he knew every little thing about you. I don’t know a lot of people who [would] treat me like that,” Martin said. 

Eme Atherton, another sophomore, has known the Lapp family since she was little but bonded more with Scotty throughout the pandemic because they were neighbors. Atherton recalled Scotty’s kindness. 

“If I didn’t want to go out … he would drop plans to hang out. If I called him upset, he’d come over with no questions,” Atherton said.

Martin and Atherton both attended and helped plan Scotty’s recent memorial service in Paradise Cay. Gathering to paint rocks and listen to speakers reflect on their time with Scotty, the celebration of his life had over 200 people in attendance. According to Martin, around 1,000 people showed up to grieve and support each other at the following service in Tahoe. 

Both the Marin and Tahoe communities have come together to raise money for the “Scotty Lapp Memorial Skate Park” through GoFundMe. 

“Scotty had a vision of trying to get a skatepark built in Tahoe City because there’s nowhere for the kids to go to [skate],” Amy said. “We decided after ski season was over that we would get to work on that. Obviously, he passed away before that could happen, and the day that he died, in that evening, I said to myself, ‘We’re building a skate park, and it’s going to have his name on it.’”

A month later, the fundraiser has garnered over $220,000. You can donate to the fundraiser here

“What’s great about [the fundraiser] is a lot of the donations are not huge amounts of money. Some are, [but] a lot of them are like $10, $5 and $15. It’s all sorts of people coming together to make this happen from Marin county, from Tahoe and from all over the world,” Amy said. 

Along with the fundraiser, the hashtag #Skiforscotty has reached many in Marin and Tahoe. 

“It’s ​​everywhere. It’s all over the kids’ helmets. It’s all over people’s cars. There are stickers literally everywhere. He [was] part of a group called the Tahoe Junior Freeride Association, and one of the kids made a flag [to commemorate Scotty.] During the competitions, they have a forerunner – forerunners go before the competition starts – and the forerunner has been carrying the ‘Ski for Scotty’ [flag.] It’s really cool, [especially with] people chanting and cheering,” Amy said. 

According to Amy, one of Scotty’s signature style choices was a bandana under his helmet, so she has been happy to see kids wearing bandanas under their helmets or tied around their pants or wrists in addition to sporting the hashtag.

The hashtag reached former Olympic skier Jonny Moseley, a family friend of the Lapps, who posted a tribute on his Instagram tagging #Skiforscotty. 

Photo by Scotty Lapp

“He was a creator. A young man who rallied his friends around projects and adventures. He inspired us with his photos and videos. He had an eye for the authentic and was uncompromising,” read Moseley’s caption. “When he was around ten years old he carved his name into our fence. My son went out and carved it deeper. He belongs to all of us now.”

Scotty not only poured love into other people but also showed love for nature and the world surrounding him. This was a defining trait of his, recognized by those who knew him.  

“[The] sunset [was] his favorite time of day, he would run out the door with his camera if there was a good sunset, even if we were in the middle of dinner, he loved, loved, loved, looking up at the sky and checking out the colors,” Amy said. 

Martin acknowledged this too and reflected on how she wants to implement this attribute of Scotty’s into her life moving forward. 

“I just want to see the beauty that he saw,” Martin said. “I want to be able to say that I lived like him. Say 20 years from now, 40 years from now, at some point in time, I want to be like, ‘Wow, Scotty changed my life.’”

The Redwood and Tahoe communities will never forget you, Scotty.