WW South tabs Norris as new head coach
Sean Norris does not need a refresher of the significance football carries across the Wheaton community.
Norris was an All-State quarterback at Wheaton North. He went on to a decorated career at Wheaton College, finishing third in school history in passing yards and touchdowns. Since 2013, Norris has been part of the coaching staff at Wheaton Warrenville South.
On Thursday Norris was formally introduced as just the third head coach in program history. Norris, offensive coordinator since 2017, takes the reins from Ron Muhitch, who retired last month after his 19th season as head coach and 41st total with the program.
"I'm well aware of the Tiger tradition, and I'm humbled to carry on that tradition. That tradition is a big part of what makes this program unique," Norris said. "This program has been excellent in so many different ways. It's a great honor to be part of that as a coach and now it's our challenge to continue that tradition."
Norris, 33, a special education instructor at WW South set to celebrate his four-year wedding anniversary with his wife Sarah with two little girls and a third child on the way, was a graduate assistant at Wheaton College for a year after his playing career concluded. Norris spent two more years as a position coach there. He worked as an instructional aid at WW South in special services during that time when Muhitch approached Norris and asked if he'd like to join the Tigers' coaching staff.
"I sort of debated if I wanted to, I had another offer to coach college, I was wavering with the high school or college route and realized I love the teaching part of it and ended up going the high school route," Norris said.
Norris received his master's degree in special education from Aurora University, and started coaching with the Tigers. He was receivers coach for three seasons starting in 2013, moved from there to become the passing game coordinator and took over as offensive coordinator in 2017.
He's just the third head coach at the Wheaton school since 1980. John Thorne, and later Muhitch, led the Tigers to seven state championships and 27 playoff appearances at Wheaton Central and later Wheaton Warrenville South since 1988.
"It's incredible what coach Thorne did back when the school started, and coach Muhitch, too. Those are great men and great coaches," Norris said. "It's a great honor and a great responsibility, one I don't take lightly. I'm excited. I spoke to our players about embracing the past and creating our new future."
A career in coaching always was in the back of Norris' mind.
His dad, Tom, was an All-State basketball player at Oak Park-River Forest and 2020 Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee who led the Huskies to third place in the state in 1976. Tom Norris went on to play collegiately at Baylor and UIC, and installed a love of sports in his three sons.
At Wheaton North, Sean Norris threw for 3,600 career yards and 36 touchdowns, and finished his Wheaton College career with 6,534 yards and 65 TDs.
"I always dreamed of doing that [coaching] and as I got through college opportunities opened up," Norris said. "I loved the Wheaton College football program, how that shaped me as a young man. I knew that was my passion and that football was my vehicle to shape young people. I jumped at the opportunity. I'm working at the best job in the world."
Norris reiterated that he'll embrace many of the Tigers' traditions, while tweaking a few things to bring the program back to that greatness. Prior to this shortened spring season, WW South made back-to-back Class 7A quarterfinal appearances in 2018 and 2019 after missing the playoffs for three consecutive years.
Norris said his familiarity with his players, being in the building and part of the staff, is huge moving forward.
"Relationships are important, and huge to me as a coach. It's huge to have those relationships established with players and staff, and guys know that we care about each other," Norris said. "We have a great staff, guys work hard and love the game."