High School Sports

Obtaining the unthinkable

Sehome senior Drew Norvell is the All-Whatcom Boys' Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
Sehome senior Drew Norvell is the All-Whatcom Boys' Track and Field Athlete of the Year. The Bellingham Herald

Sehome throws coach Tim Carlson provided Drew Norvell a vision.

Even if Sehome’s big man on campus originally slighted his own abilities, four years of hard work, dedication and enough belief in Carlson’s process helped Norvell accomplish feats this spring he never thought possible.

Four years ago Norvell came to Carlson as a wide-eyed freshman looking to use track and field as conduit to improving himself as a football player.

He stood 6-feet tall, weighed 190 pounds — a shell of himself now.

“Coach freshman year told me to take a picture of yourself now and compare it to yourself senior year,” Norvell said jokingly in a phone interview.

But while Norvell’s success may have been difficult for himself to forecast, Carlson devised a program that would develop his abilities, and the Sehome thrower contained a paramount intangible few could measure up to.

“In 20 years maybe I had one or two that have been on par with how hard he works,” Carlson said in a phone interview. “He has that competitive nature to him, and I think that is something that really drives him. He wants to be good.”

And Norvell truly became great his senior year. He enjoyed massive gains in the shot put and discus between his freshman and sophomore year. His junior season he became a state contender, placing third at the Class 2A State Championships in the shot and seventh in the discus.

This year he left the state meet as a state champion, winning the shot put with a personal-best distance of 59 feet, 10 inches — a mark elevating him to third on Sehome’s top 10 list of all-time best shot put marks behind former greats Steven Ayers and Lance Neubauer.

Norvell also brought home a third-place medal in the discus with a personal best throw of 155-9.

“That was really awesome to finish the way I did, especially in the shot put,” Norvell said.

The Mariners senior was also thrilled given both Ayers and Neubauer were in attendance watching his performance.

Finishing third all-time in a revered throwing program such as Sehome’s was particularly gratifying since Norvell early in his career thought the proposition of him simply cracking the top 10 was fantasy.

“I was using the top-10 list as kind of a ladder to keep improving and passing people, and then finally ending up third was really rewarding,” Norvell said.

Norvell began witnessing his potential his sophomore year, he said. That’s also the season when the rest of Sehome’s deep, talented boys’ throwing team decided to join him.

Carlson believed they started seeing what Norvell was doing, and soon the Marines had a large collection of talent.

“He was like a model home,” Carlson explained. “Everybody saw him and said, ‘Hey, I want to be a part of that, what he’s doing,’ We were able to get them to come out, and I think Drew really took off when they got on board. It became more of that family feel, more of a brotherhood.”

Few can parallel Norvell’s work ethic. One wouldn’t have to look farther than his 4.0 GPA to realize that.

But having such a standout throwing group fostered an intense competitive environment in which Norvell was competing against some of the state’s best throwers on a daily basis.

It undoubtedly aided Norvell’s maturation.

“There is no way I could have done it without them,” Norvell said of his teammates. “Everyone is a hard worker. No one is lazy on the throwing team. Everyone works just as hard as everyone else, and 100 percent at all times, especially at practice.”

Norvell’s hard work has extended beyond the practice arena. Yes, he’s shown his coachability in ingesting Carlson’s critiques and quickly making the corrections. But he’s also put in countless hours in the weight room, building strength and explosiveness that’s helped him in both his throwing and football career.

During his high school career he’s grown 5 inches and now weighs 290 — a distant memory from the 190 pounds he was four years ago.

What once was a means to help Norvell accomplish his goal of being able to play college football, has not become another passion of his, so much so that he plans to compete on the Washington State University track and field team while he’s also been accepted to the football program as a preferred walk-on.

“I think anything I put a lot of work into, I don’t have a choice. I can’t not love it or I wouldn’t work so hard,” Norvell said. “As I improved, I just kind of realized more and more potential and that made me want to work even harder. As I get better it motivates me, and my love for it grows,”

Athletes the Year

For the 10th year, the Bellingham Herald is proud to celebrate Whatcom County high school student athletes with its All-Whatcom County teams. A look back at the athletes selected All-Whatcom County Softball Players of the Year:

2006: Steven Ayers, Sehome

2007: Steven Ayers, Sehome

2008: Mason McHenry, Sehome

2009: Shayne Moore, Blaine

2010: Ryan Macdonald, Sehome

2011: Logan Packard, Mount Baker

2012: Patrick Gibson, Squalicum

2013: Patrick Gibson, Squalicum

2014: Kaleb Heezen, Meridian

2015: Drew Norvell, Sehome


School: Sehome

Year: Senior

Event: Throws

What he did: Rounded out a four-year varsity career with a state shot put title and some very impressive marks. ... A tremendous overall thrower who peaked during the Class 2A State Championships. ... Posted a personal record of 59 feet, 10 inches to claim his shot put championships. ... Also PRed in the discus, taking third in state with a throw of 155-9. ... Accounted for 16 of the Mariners’ 30 team state points, elevating Sehome to a fifth-place finish.