Edgewood fieldhouse

Caleb Turrentine / The Herald Michael Norris addresses the crowd from a podium after Edgewood unveiled the new name on the side of the field house.

After spending the last 42 years at Edgewood, Michael Norris does not find many things around the school to surprise him. But when he drove up to the team’s field house Thursday evening, there was a large group of Wildcat players, faculty and fans standing in the parking lot waiting for Norris to arrive.

“I thought it was just something I didn’t know about,” Norris said. “I thought we were having some kind of meeting or something that didn’t pertain to me. I just happened to drive back up here so I was very surprised by all of it.”

Once Norris got out of the car, he realized something special was happening when he saw the rest of his family. Edgewood athletic director Darryl Free gathered the crowd closer to the field house and started the ceremony by introducing Norris and talking about his time at Edgewood.

“You catch guys that they’ve been here, they’ve been there, they’re all chasing the next level job,” Free said. “That’s pretty common in today’s world. None of this is true with coach Norris. He dedicates his time to the kids at Edgewood, both in the field and in the classroom. I tell people all the time that coach Norris is Edgewood Academy.”

Edgewood Board of Trustees chairman Bart Mercer took the podium next and spoke highly of Norris and what he has done during his time at the school. Mercer officially made the announcement Edgewood was naming its field house next to the stadium the Michael Norris Field House.

“It’s special,” Norris said. “My children went to school here and maybe I’ll have some grandchildren come through here. Actually, I just had my first grandchild this weekend, so maybe he’ll get here and see his granddad’s name on the building.”

Norris attended Edgewood from first grade until graduating. He quickly returned after college to become a coach for the Wildcats and has worked there ever since.

During his time at the school, Norris has assisted with coaching football and basketball while focusing on being Edgewood’s strength and conditioning coach. He was on the staff during Edgewood’s string of six consecutive football championships and stuck around through the transition under Free.

“I’ve had some opportunities to go other places but I grew up here,” Norris said. “I get to reminisce every day about being here and I had such great experience. When I was asked to come back as a full-time teacher and as a coach after college, there wasn’t hesitation. I’ve never wanted to leave.”

Free said the decision was made a few months ago but the school finally got the sign up in time for the first home game of the season last week. There were plenty of efforts to keep it a secret from Norris and Free said the cover was almost blown a couple of times. However, Free said it was all worth it in the end and there were never any doubts about the decision.

“When I got here, I knew Edgewood’s history and especially its recent history,” Free said. “Norris has just been a staple here for so long. The more I found out about him and heard more and more stories and saw kids come back to see him, I just knew he had to be recognized here permanently. What better place than the field house where he’s in charge of our weight program and does a fantastic job.”

There was not a doubt of the impact Norris has made at Edgewood during his years there but now there is a permanent mark for others to see. Even with the recognition, Norris said he sees no limit on his time at Edgewood.

“I feel good,” Norris said. “I don’t have any plans to not be here so I guess as long as they have me, I’ll be here.”

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.