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October 10, 2013

Head coach ready to win

High expectations for 2013 softball team

By Ronnie Holman

In the summer of 2013, Cleveland State’s softball team got a new head coach. Rebecca Norris was named the new coach after the resignation of former coach, Angie Nicholson. Nicholson, who was the Cleveland State’s softball head coach for the past seven years, took a job at Eastern Illinois. Under Nicholson the team had a winning record of 211-152. During that time Nicholson led her team to a 2008 and 2010 Horizon League title and in 2009 the team won the league tournament championship which earned the lady Vikings an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship Tournament. Norris was selected from a tough list of candidates for the coaching job. This was an obvious choice for her.

Head Coach Rebecca Norris“Obviously the athletic program has had a great background, winning all the championships last year and a strong supportive group,” Norris said. “Cleveland State itself is a great university; the professors are second to none so that is a great recruiting tool to the athletes here.”

Norris is new to Cleveland State but she has tons of coaching experience. With 17 years of experience, Norris looks to better the success of the Lady Vikes in the coming seasons. Coming from Indiana Tech, a NAIA school, Norris was named coach of the year in 2013. She reached a milestone recording her 200th win as the head coach for Indiana Tech. Coach Norris’ teams were successful on the field and achieved success off the field as well. Her teams have always maintained a 3.0 GPA since her first season as head coach at Indiana Tech and in 2011 she had 13 Academic All Conference players which was the most in school history. Norris has spent the past seven years as head coach of the USA Athletes International team, coaching collegiate athletes in global competitions.

“I think on the field you will see a little more offense, a little more ball in play and a little more aggressiveness on the bases,” Norris said. “I think in the past our team has done well on and off the field, so I think you’ll see us continue with that.”
Norris received her BA in English from Bellarmine in 1993, an MA in Teaching from Webster University in 1995 and her MS in Kinesiology with an emphasis in coaching fastpitch from Texas Woman’s University in 2006.

She is no stranger to competition. Between her coaching experience and playing experience, being a two sport athlete, competing in softball and field hockey at Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY., Norris looks to bring a tenacious attitude to Cleveland State’s softball. She had success winning at Indiana Tech so she looks to bring the same here to Cleveland State. The team finished 22-27 last season and wants to turn the losing record around this season.

“We are hunting for a Horizon League Championship, that’s our goal and that’s what we’ll aim to do,” Norris said. “Last year the team was very young and very good so I think this season we will take it to the next level.”

Because the softball team is women, there is nothing cute about what type of player’s coach Norris is looking for. Hard work can require getting dirty and gritty on the field, those are the types of players she is looking for. Versatility is one of the keys to their success.

“I’m looking for the hardcore player that’s getting dirty working hard in practice, working hard in the weight room and in the classroom,” Norris said. “We have a lot of versatile players which is really helping our team defensively and offensively but most of our team can play multiple positions and that really helps.”

Coach Norris is from St. Louis and she is a baseball fan. She roots for the Cardinals and Indians. But green is the color she loves.

“I’ve already been to an Indians game so I can say I am an Indians fan but I am a huge St. Louis Cardinals fan,” Norris said. “I was bummed because I thought I could root for both the Indians and Cardinals in hopes of them meeting in the world series but I love the green.”