American Press Female Athlete of the Year: Losing not an option for two-sports star Norris

Published 9:28 am Friday, July 5, 2024

From a young age, Kelly Norris loved sports and didn’t like to lose. It propelled her to become a stellar two-sport athlete at Rosepine High School.

As a senior, she led the Rosepine Eagles basketball team to their second consecutive state championship, earned state MVP honors and made a run to the quarterfinals in softball. Norris is the American Press Female Athlete of the Year.

“It tests every part of you, your mental and physical,” Norris said. “It gives me motivation.

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“I am always in shape, and I get to build a relationship with my teammates. It makes your team better too when you have a good connection. I just loved to watch and play sports ever since I was little. I love to win. I just love it.

“I hate to lose in anything, and I am very competitive. Sports is the way for me.”

In the six seasons she played basketball and softball, Rosepine won 71 percent of its games.

Norris doesn’t stick to the typical mold guards fill as she loves to rebound as much as scoring. She averaged 16 points, 13 rebounds, 8.7 assists and two steals a game as the Eagles went 31-4 and finished the season with a 22-game win streak.

“I would say I am an all-around player,” Norris said. “I really don’t care if I score or not, as long as we are winning.

“I make the game different when I go in, just taking control, rebounding and doing the small things that most people don’t do.”

At the state basketball tournament in Hammond, Norris had eight points, 17 rebounds and 11 assists in the semifinals and 15 points, 17 rebounds and four steals in the Eagles come from behind 50-46 win over Amite in the Nonselect Division III final. The Eagles trailed in the fourth quarter but went on a 13-2 run and took the lead on a layup and free throw by Norris with 37 seconds left.

“Really, in the state game, I didn’t care about scoring,” she said. “I just knew we had to rebound for us to win.”

She was named the title game MVP and went on to win Louisiana Sports Writers Association Class 2A MVP honor and was named the American Press All-Southwest Louisiana Small Schools MVP. Norris finished her career with 2,227 points and helped start the Eagles’ basketball dynasty that made three consecutive trips to the state tournament.

Because of the Eagles’ success on the hardwood, Norris got a late start to the softball season, but the center fielder and American Press All-Soutwest Louisiana Small School softball team member worked her way to the top of the lineup and batted .400 with 15 runs, five doubles, two triples and one home run in 17 games. She hit .545 in the postseason and helped lead the Eagles to the quarterfinals for a third consecutive season.

She also enjoyed success in the classroom and made the Louisiana High School Athletic Association All-Academic team. She will attend LSU-Alexandria in the fall where she will play basketball.

“I am just scared to mess up on my grades,” Norris said. “I always make sure I get that done. It can be a lot, especially with our high school classes.

“Some of our teachers give us so much stuff to do. In my free time, I always try to get my stuff done so I don’t have to be worrying about it. I want to see how far I can go and how much my hard work paid off. I feel like it would just be useless with everything that I have done to not go and see what I can do in college.”