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Norris receives second Coach of the Year award

The Alabama Sports Writers Association named Georgiana head basketball coach Kirk Norris the Class 1A Coach of the Year.  Norris also received the honor in 2012.

The Alabama Sports Writers Association named Georgiana head basketball coach Kirk Norris the Class 1A Coach of the Year. Norris also received the honor in 2012.

The Alabama Sports Writers Association named Georgiana head basketball coach Kirk Norris the Class 1A Coach of the Year.  Norris also has the distinct honor of being one of a select few coaches to receive that honor twice—once back in 2012, and again this season.

And though the award only has his name on it, Norris said that at least 14 other names belong on the award.

“Personally, it’s a great feeling.  Any time you get recognized for the outstanding achievement of your team, it’s definitely a huge honor,” Norris said.

“But I look at it more like this; my name is on it, but it’s more of a team award.  No coach is going to get an award without really good players and a really good team.  It’s more of a reflection of what the kids achieved this year, in my opinion.”

It is no small coincidence that the two Coach of the Year awards that Norris has come off the heels of the two best seasons in Georgiana’s basketball history.  The first came in 2012 following the team’s first-ever Final Four appearance, and this year’s was awarded after a 30-2 season as well as the team’s first appearance in the state championship game.

To make to the championship game and come up short was an incredibly frustrating experience for Norris and the Panthers.  But just as 2012 served as the springboard for 2016’s successes, Norris hopes this year’s experience will similarly be a jumping-off point for the years ahead.

“There was great camaraderie among the students, the school and the city,” Norris said.

“Those two weeks of the playoffs that we went through, we saw a lot of great support.   We had spirit lines going to the bus every time we left, and kids were excited.  And I see a lot of the junior high kids being excited, and it’s something that they want to do—to play on that stage, get your picture on the wall and everything else that comes with it.  When they see the older kids be successful, I think it gives them something to shoot for because they want to be just as good, or better.”

The great fan support in Dothan and Birmingham made an already memorable season much more special for Norris, and he also scored his 200th win in his ninth season with Georgiana.

Those factors, and many others, make the 2015-2016 season perhaps the best of his Georgiana tenure.

“I think you have to put it up there because of how far they went,” Norris said.

“You can argue that other teams were better than this one, but you can’t argue with how deep they went in the playoffs, because no other team has been that far.  That’s not to disrespect any other team I’ve had, because I’ve enjoyed every one of them. “There might’ve been some more talent on some teams, and other things you can nitpick, but when it comes down to it, who had the best record speaks for itself.”

With that said, the graduating class of 2016 will see an exodus of top-tier talent from Georgiana, including three seniors—Jacquez Payton, Richard Boggan and Demarcus Rich—who’ve been playing since ninth grade.

“Theirs are big, big shoes to fill, and that’s not to say that one person has to come in and do what Richard did or Jacquez did,” Norris said.

“But definitely losing these seniors is going to hurt, but we have a lot of underclassmen that got experience this year and several of them played in the championship game.  They’ve been there, and they know what it’s about, so that can only be a positive thing for the future.”