By Becca Spilka, Eddie Bates, and Josh Imholte
You see it all over social media first. All the hype, all the excitement. Another title under the belt of the girls basketball team. However, there may be one person that you forgot to mention in your congratulations tweet, the coach behind it all. Faye Norris.
She has lead the girls basketball team on a series of wins, totalling a record of 76-10, boasting an undefeated season to boot. However, it did not start off with rings on rings for Norris. It started back in her high school days in Aiken with her own basketball coach, Johanna Gibbs.
“[Gibbs] coached me in volleyball and basketball,” Norris said. “She was also a coach at USC Aiken, and she recruited me [to play there].”
Gibbs was, as Norris put it, ‘A legend at Aiken High, no one there has topped what she did.’ Norris and her coach continue to stay in contact years after Norris’ graduation from USC Aiken and remain an encouragement to each other.
“I graduated in 1975, and my coach still calls me. She pays a visit every state playoff game.” Norris said with a lot of emotion in her voice. “She said ‘I’m so glad that you came back to South Carolina because South Carolina kids need coaches like you.’”
Norris’ coaching style has made an impact in the lives of her players. One of the ways she’s done this is by always giving her team inspirational quotes before every practice driving them to go the extra mile to win.
“For me [the quotes help] set my mind, and it gets me ready for practice. It pushes me to become better,” senior Morgan Williams said.
In order to calm the ever-present nerves and pressure of going to state or upholding the outstanding reputation of the girl’s basketball team, Norris takes each day one step at a time.
“[I was coached] to take it one game at a time. One season at a time. I always tell them whatever happened the season before has ended,” she said. “Now we have to start a new season fresh and new and move forward. One practice at a time. One game at a time.”
While the pressure of upholding a dominant reputation may seem like a heavy burden to bear, Norris’ positive attitude is constantly reflected through the dedicated members of her team.
“I know that there is an expected pressure [to go to state], but as far as I am concerned, I don’t look at it as a pressure. I look at it as a goal,” Morgan said. “That is what I want to accomplish, and that is what I want my team to accomplish.”
Despite the external pressures, Norris’ main goal remains to unite the girls as a team. As one of her motivational quotes once said, ‘When there are no enemies within, the enemies on the outside cannot hurt you.’
“I try to be very supportive,” Norris said “We are going to have enemies on the outside, so we have to keep united on the inside.”
Norris always has her eyes set on the horizon, hunting for the team’s fourth consecutive state title.
“This coming year I plan on just moving forward. That is the main theme for the team every year is to just keep moving forward.”
*Statistics provided by maxpreps.com.