Cole Strives to Develop Passionate Players
In coordination with the Recognition and Rewards Committee of the ECU Staff Senate, the Pieces of Eight series honoring exceptional ECU staff recognizes Norm Cole.
By Judy Currin
Norm Cole has never played organized soccer.
“I played a little basketball in high school and volleyball as an undergraduate at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa.,” Cole said. “And some pick-up games in graduate school, but that’s about it.”
After completing requirements for his master’s in education from the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla., Cole joined the staff at ECU.
Now in his third year as College Hill Suites coordinator, he is also beginning his fifth season as a volunteer coach for the Pitt-Greenville Soccer Association Youth Recreational League.
“When Norm came to Greenville, he wanted to get involved with the community,” said “Waz” Miller, assistant vice chancellor and director of residence life. She mentioned a variety of opportunities.
Youth soccer appealed to Cole. But Cole had never played the game.
“Well, why not?” Cole said. “It’s a whole lot of fun and running around a field with kids for an hour is the best stress relief I know.”
Cole coaches Miller’s seven-year-old daughter’s team and recently added a team of four-year-old boys, which includes Miller’s son. All the kids call him “Coach Norm.”
“It’s gratifying to be able to teach them the skills of the game and watch them grow in ability and self- confidence,” he said.
Cole took an active stance in his own soccer education, acquiring four state youth licenses issued by the United States Soccer Federation. In six months, he plans on testing for the national “D” license. He’s joined the professional coaching organization, and has developed his own curriculum based on having fun. “Above all else,” Cole said, “Soccer is a game, and kids are kids and should have fun playing a game.”
His coaching philosophy mirrors the student development goals he puts forth as a hall coordinator. His focus is on skill development, not winning.
Cole’s approach to coaching is guided discovery. “The game (and life) is best learned and most owned by the players when they find their own answer to the challenges the game presents,” he said. His long-term goal is to “help in the development of creative, exciting, skilled and passionate soccer players, while positively influencing their overall development as people.”
“Norm’s optimism and patient manner assist him on the field as well as in the hall,” Miller said.
Having never worked with young children before, Cole has faced some care-taking challenges of his own. “He’s always tying shoes, helping them put on pinneys and even dealing with pony-tail issues.” (Pinneys are nylon vests used to divide one team into two for practice.)
Cole said he has made great friends through coaching. “It’s my way of making connections and friendships outside of my work. My soccer families have become an extended family,” he said.
“Norm’s willingness to give of his time and talents is unparalleled,” Miller said. “He is a true credit to ECU and the Greenville community.”