HAMLET — Jason Norton had his fall planned out until he got an offer he couldn’t turn down.
After declining an offer to remain on the staff at Richmond Senior with new football coach Mike Castellano, Norton said he was making plans to see his two sons play collegiate football.
His oldest son, Alex, is an offensive lineman at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Kevin, his middle son, will be attending Catawba this fall and will also be an offensive lineman.
Norton also talked about spending time with his youngest son Jase and the rest of his family.
Then he received a phone call from Hamlet Middle School principal Jim Butler. And everything changed.
Butler said he and his assistant principal Rob Ransom were discussing the upcoming school year and what they needed to do to prepare. One of the things that was mentioned was the football coaching position.
Butler said Mitch Coe, the boys basketball coach, stepped in last year to lead the football team and did “a good job.” Butler thought with the change in the coaching staff at Richmond, he might be able to hire one of the former coaches to get the Red Rams back to their winning ways.
That is when Butler reached out to Norton, who started his coaching career in Richmond at Hamlet. Norton coached the football, baseball and basketball teams.
“We knew we had him once we got him in the building,” Butler said. “I told him he can make the program what he wants to make it. We are upgrading the equipment by getting new uniforms and that will be under his control.”
Before Norton went from just being a teacher at Richmond to adding the responsibilities of guiding the Hamlet football program, he had to check with his family. If they were OK with the move, then he was going to return to Hamlet.
“I live three blocks from the school,” Norton said. “I didn’t want to be tied up and miss spending time with Jase. But I still like coaching football.”
Even though Norton was feeling the urge to remain on the sideline, he turned down a handful of other offers to coach at the high school level. Norton’s main focus was still on attending his sons’ football games on Saturday.
Norton sat down and looked everything over and realized with the middle schools playing their games on Wednesday and having practices the other days of the week, he could make things work. Norton let Butler know that he was coming back to be a Red Ram.
“I still get the weekends off and will still be home at night,” Norton said. “I can still do the things I want to do like take Jase to school every morning.”
Butler believes hiring Norton will not only be good for the Red Rams, but also for the Raiders in the long run.
“The middle school programs need to be strong because that will help Richmond too,” he said.
Norton will hold an informational meeting for any students, as well as their parents, who are interested in playing football 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the school’s cafeteria. For more information, contact the school at 910-582-7903.
Reach managing editor Shawn Stinson at 910-817-2671 and follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.