Norwood heads north from Barrington to take over Grant
Tim Norwood faced a common career crossroad: Stay in a place that was comfortable or follow a dream?
Norwood chose the dream and followed it north on Rte. 12 into Fox Lake. After 22 years as a P.E. teacher and assistant coach at Barrington, he's now head football coach at Grant.
"I've always kind of wanted to be a head coach," Norwood said. "(Barrington's) Joey Sanchez has done a great job, is only a few years older than me. He isn't going anywhere. So it's kind of like if I'm going to do it, it's going to have to be somewhere else.
"Grant came up. I live kind of North Barrington, so it's only a 15-minute commute for me, so it kind of worked family-wise. I decided to give it a shot, go for it."
Norwood said there was a family meeting to discuss the options, and the difference in pay was not extreme. He replaces Chris Robinson, who left after five years on the job.
For the past 12 years, Norwood was co-defensive coordinator for the Broncos. It may not be realistic to replicate Barrington's program, but Grant has been successful in football. The Bulldogs made the playoffs 10 times in 14 years from 1999-2012, but has made it just once since then.
"At Barrington we had 80-90 on our varsity," he said. "Right now we're sitting at 45 and those numbers will go up. The goal is to look like Barrington. That's what I've been in the last 22 years, that's what I know. Obviously it's not going to be to a 'T.' But it should be similar."
Another successful program Norwood can draw from is Prairie Ridge. He's a 1995 graduate of Crystal Lake Central, but has a younger brother who played at Prairie Ridge, which opened two years later. After college at Western Illinois, Norwood did his student teaching at Prairie Ridge and got to know coach Chris Schremp, who has won three state titles with the Wolves.
"He knows his Xs and Os, he's got a good culture, kids buy in," Norwood said. "They run that triple option, but everyone's bought in on it. They do it as good as anyone, them and Cary-Grove."
Norwood figured if he was ever going to be a head coach, this was his best chance. He didn't want any regrets down the road.
"I'm excited," he said. "It's a little more blue-collar community. The kids work hard, it's just a matter of trying to flip the culture and reset expectations.
"Spent a lot of the summer talking about our champions manual; trying to hold kids accountable to be there. Just trying to get some of that stuff reestablished. I think we're off to a good start with it."