Tennis coach receives state award
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Nervous voices fill the quiet, still air as players take the courts. As he stands at the back fence, he thinks about how far his team has come. He watches his players prepare to play, and takes a deep breath. Although he doesn’t know this, he keeps the team together, and is one of the most important aspects of the team’s success.
Recently, Texas Tennis Coach Association (TTCA) named varsity tennis coach, Darby Norman, the 5A coach of the year for the state of Texas. Norman has taught for 22 years and has been a tennis coach for 10. Senior Shelby Morris said her favorite thing about coach Norman is that he helped her passion for tennis grow.
“You hear all the time about coaches that diminishes athletes and their love for the sport,” Morris said. “Norman did the complete opposite for me. He encourages our team to join other groups and to get involved. He shows us that athletics, academics and involvement in groups are not mutually exclusive.”
Morris also said her favorite memory with Norman was when Randall beat Abilene Cooper in area last year.
“While I was playing my singles match super tiebreaker, Norman stood on the back fence watching with a smile on his face,” Morris said. “After I won the match he ran over to me and gave me a huge hug. I was the tenth win of playoff match. I will never forget that moment.”
Senior Josh Williams said Norman has helped to make the team more of a family.
“I love how he brings everyone together,” Williams said. “He has shown me that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible. Without Norman, I would not be as successful as I am today. He has a tremendous impact on everyone, and without him, I don’t think our team would survive.”
Williams also said Norman has taught him that other people’s opinion’s don’t matter.
“If we focus on what everyone else believes, we’re stuck trying to please them, but if we focus on our goals, nothing can stand in the way,” Williams said. “In my opinion, his mental strength is one of the major reasons we’ve been successful.”
Williams said his favorite memories with Norman are being able to practice with him every day.
“I think I’m the only person who loves practice,” Williams said. “But when I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by a team and coach like mine, how could I not love it? Whether I am having a terrible day or one of the best in my life, I know that Norman will be there to offer any assistance. I know I am leaving soon, but I am trying to soak it all in before it’s gone.”
Williams said that leaving Norman for college will be one of the most difficult things in his life to do.
“Thank you, coach,” Williams said. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have had such a positive impact on my life. I couldn’t imagine playing for anyone else.”