Honoring Coach Ashley

Earlier this week, we learned of the retirement of long-time Ingomar basketball coach, Norris Ashley. This closes an important chapter in not only Ingomar sports, but Union County and Mississippi athletics as well.
When I started here in 2008, I talked with friends about the job and tried to find out as much about the area as possible. The first thing I was told about was Norris; his legacy and his position as Mississippi’s all-time winningest basketball coach.
With a reputation that precedes him, it’s no surprise I was immediately intimidated the first time I met him and even more so when I actually had to interview him. What I first thought would be a nerve-wrecking experience actually opened the door to getting to know one of the nicest and funniest coaches I’ve work with.
Norris has a sense of humor that is enjoyed by many, and this is mostly seen in his quotes. Now, I’m well known for sugar-coating some of what coaches say, and I’ve done my fair share of editing things I’ve been told. I’ve done this for everyone, except Norris. He is, by far, the only person who can get away with what he says, and he has always had a very unique way of making his point.
Probably my fondest memory of working with Norris comes from the beginning of the 2010-2011 season. Coming off the school’s ninth state championship, I went to Ingomar’s gym to discuss the upcoming season with him for our annual basketball preview. Turning on my recorder and asking the initial question, the response I received was, “Elizabeth, have you ever watched the show, Swamp People?”
Of course I was dumbfounded at that moment and had no clue as to how to try and direct him back to the interview, so we proceeded to discuss the show.
This, more than anything, was a simple reminder that this man, who has had so much success, as well as his fair share of controversy, was just like any other person.This is the Norris Ashley I’ve had the privilege of working with for the last four seasons.
With the legacy he leaves behind, it’s difficult to imagine who could come after him and carry on the tradition. There’s no doubt that the right decision was made to keep this job in the Ashley family.
Everything Norris has instilled in the program will be carried on through his son, Jonathan, and it just seems right that this is the direction the school board chose to go in.
There will be several new faces coaching in the area next year, and I think it will be tough for some to look at the sidelines at Ingomar and no longer see Norris with his signature towel and clipboard.
Love him or hate him, Norris Ashley is Ingomar basketball. Congratulations to Coach Ashley on his many accomplishments, and I wish him nothing but the best in his retirement.