High School Sports

Norris family is called for traveling

During basketball season, game nights for the Norris family are pretty low-key.

Good luck messages are passed from husband to wife via text message as Keenan boys coach Zach Norris and Dutch Fork girls coach Faye Norris prepare to lead their teams onto the court.

With two successful programs, "congratulations" texts usually are exchanged at the end of the night.

"That's usually the most we'll say to each other about our teams," said Zach Norris, whose Raiders face Southside today in the Class 2A semifinals in Greenville.

With Keenan in Greenville on Friday night, Zach could only text and get updates from the couple's daughter, Crystal, 23, as Faye's Silver Foxes took on Goose Creek in the Class 4A semifinal match at The Citadel. Son Ryan, who played for Zach last season and is now on scholarship at Auburn-Montgomery, will be checking in via text, too.

Things usually end up that way for a family that is pulled in four directions by the sport that unites them.

The Norrises, who met as basketball players at USC Aiken in 1979, have seen each other's teams in action three times this season - all at the Taco Bell holiday tournament at Keenan. Zach beamed with pride when Faye's team won the tournament.

"She's a great coach, she believes in working hard and she always has her team well-prepared," Zach said Thursday while making preparations for his team's trip to Greenville.

"She grew up with basketball just like I did, and we pretty much had the same philosophy," he said. "We planned to get married early on, so the family and our careers started around the same time."

Juggling practices and games with one coach in the family is difficult. With two coaches, it's is even more hectic.

"It can take up a lot of your time with your family, and she is probably a lot better at that than I am," Zach Norris said.

"I didn't make it work, it took a lot of prayer. It's been long hours, long seasons sometimes but we've held it together by the grace of God," Faye Norris said.

While coaching Crystal at North Augusta, Faye said she realized she needed to check the coaching hat at the door. "When the rest of my players went home, they didn't have to hear coach anymore, so she wasn't going to get coach either, she was going to get mom," she said.

Crystal, a JV and assistant coach at Strom Thurmond, said her parents had different styles - mom was laid-back, dad was most impassioned - but were almost always on the same page.

"They drilled the same thing, that is play defense and the offense will come. I still run the same things that they do, the things they taught me," said Crystal, whose team was 10-0 this season.

Conversations at the Norris residence are not all about basketball, but, Faye said, "When they talk I'm listening. I've made some notes about some things they have said and maybe they have adopted some things I have mentioned."

Last season, the Norrises made a concerted effort to support Ryan in his senior season.

Faye dashed from Dutch Fork to Keenan after her games to see as much of him playing as she could, even during the playoffs.

"It got real busy, but it was a good kind of busy," Faye Norris said.

"It was great to have that family interaction, and I wish I could be there now," Ryan said.

"I'm very proud of both of them. I always knew both of my parents were great coaches," he said.

And this weekend, the rest of the state knows it, too.

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