TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Jim Norman led the Big Sandy Wildcat Football team to three consecutive state championships from 1973 to 1975.
James Norman, his grandson, is now following in his footsteps.
The latter Norman is currently an offensive line coach for football, the head golf coach, and a world geography teacher at Henderson High School.
James Norman said although there is a legacy left behind by his grandfather that puts some pressure on him, he is working to use the lessons his grandfather taught him.
“I’m starting to develop my legacy as the guy who cares for kids,” James Norman said. “When you get me as a coach, you may not be getting that ‘amazing’ coach per se, but you’re getting a guy that cares about kids and gets the most out of kids and that’s what I’m prouder of than anything else.”
After pursuing a career in ministry didn’t feel right, James Norman spoke to his grandfather about a career change, and he suggested teaching.
“He spoke to me about going into teaching. It wasn’t even coaching; it was about relationships,” James Norman said. “It was about finding that kid that, in that particular year, needs somebody and having these relationships beyond the classroom and coaching.”
Norman realized he might have found his ministry after all.
“Maybe coaching and teaching would become my ministry,” James Norman said. “Maybe I could reach more kids and do more good by going into the education field and helping someone there that I may not be able to reach in a ministerial position.”
James Norman is hoping to instill the lessons he learned from his grandfather, on and off the field, with his own players and in his classroom.
“When you are part of something, you get to try to become something bigger than yourself,” James Norman said. “In the classroom specifically, where kids may not have that success or that self-confidence, just getting them to believe not only in themselves but in everybody.”
James Norman’s favorite story about his grandfather is from when he first started at Big Sandy. There were two athletes not getting along. One was black, and one was white.
“He pulled them into the office and pricked each of their fingers with a small pocket knife,” James Norman said. “When they each had a drop of blood on their finger, he told them that the outside appearance does not matter; we’re all the same on the inside.”
That story is what he remembers when trying to teach acceptance to his students and athletes.
“Each person is important. Each person has value,” James Norman. “They’re special in some way. So, not only in the athletic room but also the classroom, to develop that tolerance and love for each other. I think that’s the bigger gift I’m able to give.”