Ian and Norma Shields moved to North Carolina about a year ago. Ian took the football head coaching job for the Lenoir-Rhyne Bears, moving from as far south as they had ever been as a family.
“Well, being fairly new at this school, this last season, this 2014 season, was just trying to get to know this team,” Norma said in a recent interview with Heart for the Game.
The goal is to provide a welcoming environment to the players. Norma says that she “likes being able to bring them into our home and know that they’re welcome here, and that I’m here for them, and that my husband’s here for them.”
It is not the easiest thing in the world, though, especially “that first season.” And sometimes it comes down to the most basic and rudimentary of all things: name recognition.
“Just trying to know 100 players plus, just trying to know all their names—I still don’t know all their names,” she said. However, that does not really matter, because “I like being able to have them come into our home and to help them. I like being around the players.”
And it is a two-way street. Not only do the players come to the Shields’ house, but “I love being at practice, actually. If I could be at every practice, I would be.”
The reason she does not is simple: two of her boys are playing football themselves. That doesn’t stop Norma from being at practice any time she can, though. “I love being at practice, and just saying, you know, I’m here if you need anything.”
That translates to Football Saturdays, as well.
“When they run out on that field, I’m just standing up, cheering, and just hoping for a victory.”