Heidelberg University has graduated generations of athletes that have gone on to lead lives of purpose with distinction. While most student-athletes pursue careers outside of the athletic realm, others find work related to the sport in which they excelled at Heidelberg. For 2008 graduate Max Norris, it was Heidelberg men’s tennis and head coach Jerry McDonald that encouraged him to pursuit a career in coaching.
On July 10, 2012, Norris was officially named the assistant women’s tennis coach at the University of Alabama. Norris traveled to Tuscaloosa from the University of North Carolina where he was a full-time volunteer.
“It wasn’t until coming to Heidelberg that I decide that I wanted to coach," said Norris. “I remember being around Jerry [McDonald} – we called him ‘Coach Mac’ – at practice and I was impressed by how much he knew about schools, coaches and athletics. In a way it was his competitiveness and his knowledge that inspired me to get into coaching."
As a Student Prince, Norris compiled a career record of 80-50 on the court. He is second on the Heidelberg men’s tennis all-time wins list. He also collected first team Academic All-Ohio Athletic Conference honors in 2007 and 2008 along with second team All-OAC honors in 2006 and 2008.
Following his undergraduate work at the Berg, Norris completed his graduate studies at Ball State University, mastering in Communication Studies. While at Ball State, Norris was also involved with the men’s tennis program as a volunteer coach and student assistant. Upon completing his masters degree, Norris traveled south to North Carolina.
At the University of North Carolina, as a full-time volunteer assistant, Norris helped bring an Atlantic Coast Conference title to Chapel Hill in 2011. That season, the Tarheels finished fourth in the national polls. The ‘Heels swung their way to 50 total wins in two years before Norris was hired on at Alabama.
“I’m very appreciative of my new position because of where I began and all of the people I have had the opportunity to work with, both as a player and a coach,” said Norris. “I am excited to teach the girls what I know and I’m excited to leave my imprint on the Alabama program.”
The University of Alabama’s women’s tennis team, with the guidance of head coach Jenny Mainz, finished their 2011-2012 season, nationally ranked 11th in Division I. The fall portion of the 2012-2013 season is underway for the Crimson Tide and has been successful thus far.
“Traditionally, we are a top program in the country and with our group of outstanding women, who are competitive and great teammates for each other, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be ranked in the top 20 this season,” Norris explained.
Norris would eventually like to take on the role of head coach, but explains that it is far into the future. But unlike most of his counterparts, Norris has not played tennis professionally, but instead has worked through the ranks to earn the credentials and reputation he has up to this point in his career.
"Maybe later down the road I could work my way into a head coaching position," said Norris. "But for now, the biggest thing is that I continue to learn, improve as a coach and keep the girls motivated to win an SEC Championship and reach the Final Four.”