Randolph County Herald Tribune - Chester, IL
  • Norman sets coaching record

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  • At some point, Chester coach Brad Norman may let it sink in.

    With an emotionally-taxing 47-46 win over Steeleville on Wednesday in the semifinals of the Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament fifth-place bracket, Norman picked up career win No. 94 and became the winngingest boys basketball coach in Chester High School history.

    Norman surpassed former coach Bill Brewer (1949-56), who finished 93-97 in seven seasons with the Yellow Jackets. Brewer and Perry Goranson (1932-39) are the two longest-serving coaches in CHS boys basketball history with seven seasons each.

    “I really enjoy doing what I do,” Norman said. “I enjoy being at Chester and I enjoy the kids there.

    “It’s definitely not a goal that can be reached without those guys - past, present and future.”

    Norman - who has emphasized the contributions of his players and assistant coaches over the years rather than himself as the record got closer - was asked what he remembered most about his first win as a Yellow Jacket.

    “Oh wow, my first win, where were we at?” Norman asked. “I don’t really remember a whole lot about my first win at Chester, but I’m sure it felt good.

    “I’m sure it was a good feeling. I had a really good group of guys then. I had a good group of seniors and we were all trying to figure each other out and all trying to gel.”

    That win came in the Murphysboro Invitational in 2011, as Chester beat Carnahan’s JV team, 76-40. Chris Schwartz scored a game-high 26 points in that contest, while Reed Koeneman added 15 and Cody Mileur contributed 11.

    The Yellow Jackets finished 14-14 in their first season under Norman, who has a regional title in 2013 and two 20-win seasons among his recent Chester accomplishments.

    After tying the record with a 77-76 overtime win over Century in the tournament’s first round, Norman spent most of the next 48 hours tied with Brewer after Chester fell to Black Diamond Conference West Division rival Christopher, 63-54, in the Holiday Tournament quarterfinals.

    Against Steeleville, Jake Haberberger sank two free throws with 5.5 seconds left to give Chester a critical two-possession lead at 47-43, and Steeleville’s Owen Gross swished a 3-pointer at the buzzer to account for the final score.

    “From the first one to this one, it’s all a blur,” Norman said. “When you enjoy what you do and you’ve got good kids like we do at Chester, it makes it a lot easier.”

    Norman graduated from Dongola High School in 2002, where he was an All-South Egyptian Conference baseball and basketball player. He later earned a scholarship to Shawnee College and was an Academic All-American.

    Beginning his coaching career at Dongola Junior High School, he moved up the ranks and led his alma mater to a 19-9 record in 2009, the second winning season in more than 20 years.

    He also coached baseball for the Demons before moving on to become an assistant coach at Century and then Anna-Jonesboro before coming to Chester.

    Norman was asked if it felt like six seasons with the Yellow Jackets.

    “No, it doesn’t,” he said. “It’s amazing you know, the old saying time flies and it really, really does.

    “Especially when you’re having fun. I haven’t worked in six years is what they say right? And I feel like that.”

    With the season at roughly the halfway point, there is a possibility Norman could get his 100th win before the curtain closes on the 2016-17 campaign.

    The 32-year-old also seemed to allude that he doesn’t plan to go anywhere anytime soon.

    “I would love to continue that going and continue our program,” he said. “Hopefully, we’re building kids with good morals and kids that know how to respect and play the game the right way.

    “As long as I’ve left the game better than when I’ve found it, I think I’m doing OK.”

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