'The Kids At St. James Deserve Some Stability': Meet The Sharks' New Football Coach

Longevity. Consistency.

Those two words describe a theme echoed by both new St. James athletic director Billy Hurston and the man he's hired to become the Sharks' next head football coach.

Former defensive coordinator Tommy Norwood had his interim tag officially shed Monday night when the Horry County School Board approved his hire.

"I really believe he’s going to be there for a while and that’s what we’ve been lacking," Hurston said Monday night.

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Norwood originally came down from North Carolina, where he coached for more than 30 years, to join Joey Price's staff as an assistant. However, the head coaching position came open in April when Price decided to resign in order to take a full-time job as a pastor.

Norwood, who's been in the area for just under a year, was prepared to be an assistant for the long term, Hurston said. But, when the head coaching position came open so suddenly, Norwood decided he'd throw his name into the hat with hopes of giving the program some continuity moving forward.

"I just think our kids need some consistency. Our community wants some consistency," said Norwood, who came to St. James from Ragsdale High in North Carolina, where he'd been a head coach for 19 years. "When all that happened, I just believed they needed somebody - especially this late - that we needed somebody here that knew our kids and not bring in some outsider who had to start all over again.

"The kids at St. James deserve some stability."

Norwood has proven a loyal coach over the years. He's coached at three North Carolina schools in 36 years while serving as a head coach in 31 of them. Out of college, he spent two years as an assistant at Northwood High, served three years as an assistant at Ragsdale and led Southeast Guilford as a head coach for 12 years before returning to lead Ragsdale for nearly two decades.

"He’s coached a long time. He’s very knowledgeable," Hurston said Norwood, the Sharks' fifth football coach in 15 years. "He’s built some programs where he’s been."

Norwood's wife had been wanting to move down here for a while, Hurston said, so when he got the assistant job she was ecstatic. Now, the coach finds himself in a much more important position about 11 months into being on the Grand Strand.

"It’s been about a dead run since the end of July when I came because they were about a week out or two weeks out of practice," Norwood said of his arrival last summer. "Of course, you can just imagine what the last three or four weeks were like.

"It's been a blur, I guess we could say."

Hurston described Norwood as an even better human being than coach. That being said, the veteran coach brings plenty of passion to the field, the AD said.

"The kids really like him, but he still has that fire in his gut. He’s a coach, make no mistake about it," said Hurston, who was named St. James' new athletic director last month. "He’s nice, but he’s a nice coach. He’s going to coach. He’s going to demand a lot from the kids and he understands the importance of a weight room."

Work in the weight room is an area Price prioritized and Hurston and Norwood both said their athletes' improvements are noticeable.

"Everybody around here’s going to see it. Our linemen are big. We look like 5A linemen now," Hurston said. "Our running backs are big and strong and fast."

Norwood said the team is now in the midst of summer workouts and the expectations while pumping iron remain high.

"We know we’ve got a whole lot of work to do," Norwood said. "I’ve been there a year so we know what the situation’s like. We’re just rolling up our sleeves and going to work."

The Sharks will have their work cut out for them in the fall, when St. James becomes a 5A program. A Sharks team that finished 2-7 in 4A a year ago will soon be going against squads that are likely to be bigger and stronger. Norwood said he's already making tweaks to the offense and defense and plans to game plan to his athletes' strengths.

Seeing improvement is all that matters, he said, regardless of classification.

"Our whole thing is we want to be better tomorrow than we are today," Norwood said. "That’s just the way we’re approaching it, whether we are A, 2A, 3A, 4A or 5A. We’re just going one day at a time. Like I said, we want to be better tomorrow than what we are today."

Hurston, the first football coach in St. James' history, believes he's got the right man to lead the Sharks into the future.

"I really think he’s going to be at St. James and build us a very good football team," he said. "There’s no doubt in my mind."

Source : http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/sports/high-school/prep-football/article212991294.html

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'The kids at St. James deserve some stability': Meet the Sharks' new football coach
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