Parental guidance helps Norris shepherd Dutch Fork Foxes

02/27/2013 11:51 PM

02/27/2013 11:52 PM

The jobs of high basketball coach and parent are not so different.

Perhaps that is why Dutch Fork girls coach Marilyn “Faye” Norris has done so well juggling the two roles, raising two children during a career that has spanned two decades.

“You always find time for that family time, and you never put your whole life behind the game,” Norris said.

So on Friday, as her Silver Foxes contend for their second consecutive Class 4A title, Norris not only will be guiding her Dutch Fork team through the game, but also she will be modeling poise and passion for the youngest member of her team — her granddaughter, Jayla Norris.

Coach Norris’ 3-year-old granddaughter is a regular fixture at Dutch Fork games and weekend practices.

“All the girls know her, and she loves the girls,” Norris said. “I never turn grandma-mode off. I can focus on practice, focus on a game, but I’m always aware that I’m still teaching her.

“She keeps me relaxed, focused, motivated and grounded, so that I can be a good coach out there.”

It’s a duality Norris became comfortable with early in her career, when daughter Crystal — Jayla’s mom — toddled around at practices. Norris perfected double duty when son Ryan was born in January, in the middle of basketball season.

“I coached right up until the day I had him. I was out two weeks, and then I was right back in the gym,” she said. “The children have always been on my hip or at my feet and around the game.”

“I had no idea what I was starting,” said Norris, who grew up in Aiken and was the first member of her family to fall in love with the game of basketball.

With their father, Zach Norris, also coaching, naturally the Norris children fell into the game.

Both Norris children went on to play basketball in college — Crystal at Savannah State, and Ryan at Auburn-Montgomery.

On Friday, several generations of Norris’ family will be cheering on the Silver Foxes, from her 83-year-old father to 3-year-old Jayla.

Earlier this year, Jayla played her first season of basketball in an Augusta YMCA 3-year-old league.

“She loves defense just like her grandma,” Norris beamed. “And Uncle Ryan was her coach.”

“It’s just beautiful to see another generation getting into the game.”

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