Gateway Class of 2007
Shayla grew up in Wilkinsburg the daughter of college basketball standouts Jennifer Bruce Scott and the late Rod Scott with one sibling, her younger brother, Tyler. In Shayla’s toddler years, she enjoyed time, actually lots of time, spent in daycare as her parents made a career for themselves in nursing and sales. As a young kid, it was normal to find Shay, or Shaybo as her family still lovingly refers to her as, playing with her beanie babies, troll dolls and easy bake oven when her parents were entertaining family and friends at their home. As a school aged kid, she attended Winchester Thurston School from Kindergarten. She knew it was the norm to travel for beach vacations and enjoy amusement parks all over the country with her cousins. Long story short, she lived a wonderful and experienced childhood and it wasn’t always just basketball, until it was…
Shayla spent much of her elementary years with her older cousins Chelsea, Carmen, and Courteney at the University of Pittsburgh’s Fitzgerald Field House. Together they explored the building racing around the track, jumping on gymnastics mats, and finding their way into every space they could. But it was the front row seat to the women’s basketball team practices where Shayla learned the real ins and outs of the game. Her uncle Kirk had been the Head Coach for Pitt Women’s Basketball for over 13 years. She watched the college players like a hawk and picked up on their tendencies. She even had a favorite player on the team, #25 Michelle Katkowski. Shayla was a ball girl for the team and during one of the games spilled an entire bag of her beloved M&Ms onto the court. She grew to love the game and even from a young age learned that level of intensity was the environment she wanted for herself one day.
In 1998, the Scott Family moved out to Monroeville and Shayla began her fourth-grade year at good ole Evergreen Elementary. And so too began her basketball career with the Monroeville Recreation League. Though she had been exposed to the game through her family, playing in the Monroeville Rec. League is where Shayla developed her own true love and passion for the game of basketball. Playing under the direction of her dad, Shayla was fiercely competitive from a young age. You could guarantee she was not only diving on the floor for loose balls, and encouraging her teammates to play with her same level of compassion, but also, she was heavy on the referees to make the right calls.
Throughout her days as a student at Moss Side Middle School, Shay played basketball almost all year round. She traveled with her mom and uncle who coached AAU Basketball for her cousins, and she continued to enjoy the rec league and local high school and college basketball camps and clinics. Soon enough she too played AAU for the PA Hoops Stars which meant her busy weekends continued as the team traveled all over the country playing in tournaments. She loved every bit of it and wished her AAU teammates would be her teammates forever. However, leading up to 7th and 8th grade she knew she would have a new set of teammates and for the first time a coach who wasn’t family.
Dan Thompson headed up the Gateway Middle School basketball team when Shayla was in 7th and 8th grade. Shay made the 8th grade varsity team as a 7th grader and eventually became co-captain alongside her friend Melanie McKay. It would have been when Shay was entering her freshman year at Gateway High when her mom was hired as the girl’s team head coach. To no one’s surprise, her mother was the head coach after all, as a freshman Shay was a starter on the varsity team surpassing both the freshman team and the JV team. Leading up to her junior year, Shay competed for section titles and WPIAL/PIAA playoff runs alongside memorable teammates, Qiuana Brown, Jill Kalkstein, Christina Paolino, and Jamie Smith to name a few.
Leading scorer, leading rebounder, leading assists, throughout Shayla’s high school career she racked up all the stats and played all positions from the 1 to the 5. She knew for certain that by her Junior year she would want that competitive environment of the Division I basketball she had witnessed from an early age. Shayla stepped up her game by introducing weight training and conditioning to her off-season schedule. She would watch film and become a real student of the game as there wasn’t a college game she missed on tv. She followed the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments and envisioned herself there one day, her Aunt Audrey taking her to the Women’s Final Four to watch teams compete for championships on the big stage. As a recruitable athlete and highly sought-after player, Shayla went on official visits to college campuses. She would meet with college coaches and spend time with potential college teammates.
A four-year starter who led the Gators to a run of four consecutive playoff appearances, Shayla finished with 1,468 career points. She is a three-time all-section honoree next to earning all-state recognition three times. During her career, Shayla played a big role in handing Oakland Catholic its only two section losses in the previous eight years, including a 17-point, 10-rebound effort on Jan. 22, 2007 when the Gators topped the Eagles, 40-35. Shayla averaged 18.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots a game. She was also the Gators’ best ball-handler against pressure defenses. In the summer before Shayla’s senior year of high school she made the decision to accept a full basketball scholarship to play women’s basketball for the University of Pittsburgh. It had all come full circle and she couldn’t have been prouder for an opportunity to play college Division I basketball in her hometown before her friends and family. At Pitt Shayla’s teams went on to reach back-to-back Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament Appearances. She traveled the world and played with the Panthers in Italy, Greece, and all over the States.
Shayla went on to graduate from Pitt with two degrees. Her Bachelor of Arts in Media and Professional Communications coming in just three years as an undergraduate. Shay earned her Masters of Science degree in Health and Fitness in her senior year of college. After her second graduation from Pitt in 2011, Shay moved across the state to Philadelphia to become an assistant women’s basketball coach at Division I institution LaSalle University where the team would compete in the Atlantic 10 Conference. After four years in Philly, Shay moved back to Pittsburgh where she would begin her career as an athletics administrator. From 2015-2021 Shay was the Director of Athletics at the prestigious Ellis School where she would also meet Justin Laboy. Together Shayla and Justin welcomed son Maverick (6) and daughter Sloane (5). Most recently Shayla has served as Donda Academy’s (Los Angeles, CA) Head of School and Donda Sports Chief Operating Officer from 2021. This past June 2023 welcomed the newest addition to the family, another daughter, Dove. Shayla is currently a full-time stay at home mom and loving every bit of being close to her whole family here in Pittsburgh.
As the Athletic Director at Gateway during your time, it was a pleasure to watch you succeed on and off the court. Your competitiveness and outstanding skill set made you a dominant presence on the court. I am so proud of you receiving this honor of being inducted into the ’23 Class. Congratulations!
– Former AD Terry Smith