NORWICH – On Monday afternoon, nearing the final days of school, the Norwich Unified Basketball team held its first ever awards ceremony in the NHS gymnasium. The team had a special guest, Todd Nelson, the Assistant Director of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA).
Before each athlete was honored, Athletic Coordinator and coach Rich Turnbull talked about the planning of the program. Rich stated it was an emotional process with happy tears being shed as he received nothing but positive feedback from everyone. After long talks with Mr. John Martinson, a leader in the special education department at Norwich High School, along with Nelson, all agreed that this would be “the best thing that Rich and the School ever did.”
Nelson was well-welcomed and stated that “Norwich was a town that loved their basketball.” Very true in the eyes of many great NHS athletes and the community.
Turnbull, who has been a coach of many teams throughout his tenure at Norwich, broke down and said, “In my 20 years here in Norwich, this was the best time I ever had and the best program I have ever been a part of.”
After the brief history on the team, Coach Jess Smith recognized each athlete. Each athlete also received a certificate, a long-sleeved purple t-shirt from the Norwich boys and girls basketball booster clubs with the team name, tornado logo, and their names on the back, a t-shirt from the official Unified basketball program, a varsity letter and pin. Representatives from Suny Morrisville Norwich Extension were in attendance and even provided bags with helpful information for the student-athletes.
Concluding the recognition, Smith said that having this program was fun as well as a positive movement for the year.
Turnbull took the podium once more to share how he met the team before presenting them with their fourth place plaque, which they received following their final game. He had met them one day when they were walking down the gym hallway, getting ready to clean the trophy case. Something they did every week. Turnbull took it upon himself to make sure they had something extra to clean and something to always admire. Their fourth place plaque along with a 2022 team picture was placed in the Norwich High School trophy case. A moment to remember for the rest of their lives.
Ending the ceremony, ice cream was served for the athletes and spectators with a team tribute video made by Rhett Genung and graphics help by Maya Adolff. Adolff also is a member of the Youth committee who contacted the schools around the area to play against Norwich.
Congratulations to the following Norwich Unified Basketball players and coaches Jess Smith and Rich Turnbull; Anthony Berg, Quincy Carnachan, Andrew Fochtman (who couldn’t make the ceremony), Ketcher Graham, Kylie Lawton, Josh Lawton, Jesse Little, Max Morris, and Ryan Smith.