• Ben Shenk

Building Up The Next Generation Through Sports: Coach Norwood's Story

“Why do I do this...I like to see the kids have opportunity; to be successful, and to be productive in society.”

Sports can be one of the most unifying forces in the world; bringing together billions to watch, play, and compete. And for many of us, as well as our children, sports have played a fundamental role in our lives.


Many of us likely have memories of early experiences with sports that we loved or hated, with teammates, rivalries, the excitement of winning, and the weight of losing at something we put our best into…. Practice after practice working at becoming better at the sport; a sort of discipline and commitment that we didn’t have anywhere else in life.


When we really reflect, we find that for many of us, sports shaped our lives. And behind each of those life-shaping experiences was a man or woman, “coach”, who may have impacted our lives even more than the sport itself.

That was the case for Coach Norwood. “Growing up, I always had great coaches who really inspired me...I wound up getting a football scholarship...and when I came home I got myself a job in a refinery, and my sister would always tell me ‘man you ought to be out there with those kids’...when I was able to get a job with regular hours...I was out there with my daughter (helping coach volleyball)...that brought me up to the mid 1990s...and I had some friends that were out there coaching already, and they said ‘man we need you to help us’. And ever since then I’ve been coaching.”


Since then, Norwood has had the opportunity to help raise up multiple generations of youth through his coaching, with some of his own pupils now going on to lead the coaching staff for local high schools across New Orleans.


And while he loves sports, his passion for raising up youth is truly what has fueled his 25 years of coaching.


“The younger ones now are the future. You get the younger ones at 8 or 9 years old and put your building block down there, so they have a better chance.” explains Norwood. “My reward is when I have some of these kids come back up to me and say ‘Coach, I didn’t realize what you were stressing back then, but I understand now.’”

Now, after years of coaching every age from 8 years old to high school teams in track, basketball, baseball, and football, and after sending teams to the top 5 in AAU and racking up national titles, Norwood will be the first coach to use Thrive 9th Ward’s gym.


Starting September 10th, Coach Norwood will be hosting rolling registration “basketball camp” style practices for boys and girls 8-12 years old across all skill levels. His intention is to build up enough players to host a league of 8 teams that would play on Saturdays come December.


Oscar Brown, Director of Thrive 9th Ward expressed his excitement for Norwood to be coaching at the center, saying, “Coach has been around the Desire community for years. I can still remember him helping out back long before Katrina. Now, it’s so cool to have a coach and role model like him back in the Desire community. And to know his heart, you know, it’s a great fit because we’re all on the same page of bringing together the community and building up leaders from inside the neighborhood.”


“My reward is when I have some of these kids come back up to me and say ‘Coach, I didn’t realize what you were stressing back then, but I understand now.’” - Coach Norwood

Coach Norwood’s legacy is already one of choosing to Leverage his L.I.F.E. on behalf of others. Thrive is grateful for the impact that he has had, and continues to have by giving of his Labor, Influence, Finances, and Expertise to create a thriving New Orleans.


To learn more about the upcoming Basketball League, check out Thrive 9th Ward’s Linktree website here: linktr.ee/thrive9thward


If you want to learn how you can leverage your life by giving to Coach’s efforts or to Thrive 9th Ward’s programs, click here or contact Emily at Assistant@Thrivenola.org

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