BLANKET — As I walk into the building with Blanket ISD principal Chris Morrow, it’s a bit chilly. I can hear the voices of the girls’ basketball team warming up in the gym as Coach Brooke Norris is nearby. She’s kind, approachable, ready to engage and there’s the feeling this is her turf. She’s done this before — game on.

I begin to ask her about the team as she looks on at practice, watching over their drills. We begin to talk about what her goals and plans are for the season.

Fundamentally, Coach Norris informed me, she’d like to be able to teach the girls to play the game right, to be consistent and persistent on the court. Norris believes in continuity, structure and being fair but stern with the team. And in a world were athletics is one of the biggest builders of life skills and confidence, playing the game right and knowing your skill is vital in succeeding on and off the court, not just scoring.

This is Norris’s first year at the Blanket school district. She’s taught sixth and eighth grade English along with English 1 over the years and credits her ability to level and understand the students well to what she’s learned in athletics.

“I wouldn’t be as successful as I am as a teacher if I didn’t coach, I build relationships on the court,” Norris said.

In coaching one of Norris’ goals is to teach each student that she’s more than a coach, she’s building relationships with each student for the long run and hoping to take in every moment, not taking the journey for granted.

She admits it’s difficult as a teacher because you want each student to succeed, as do their parents, and it’s almost scary as adults to watch them fail.

“But if they don’t do their homework,” she joked, “then you fail.” Norris thinks a lot of kids struggle with dealing with their problems, but if they don’t fail, they won’t learn.

“It’s great teaching them how to work when they haven’t learned that skill yet. My job is very fulfilling.”

Being a reader herself - one of her favorite things about being an English teacher is improving the kids’ reading skills and discussing what’s being taught.

From the time Norris was in high school she knew she wanted to be a teacher and a coach. Norris remembers she had an uphill battle to this point and had to find a balance in how stern she needed to be with each student, but she’s cruising now. Norris and her husband Cameron both teach at Blanket ISD.They they have two kids and she thinks to teach at the same district has kept them close as a family, Blanket is the type of school where they’ve always wanted to teach.