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By Nathan Pace
Arguably the most accurate 3-point shooter to come from the Southside, Jessica Norris just wrapped up her basketball career and is ready to take on her next challenge. Teaching.
“I’m currently student-teaching so I am getting my degree in elementary education,” Norris said. “I am student teaching in a 3rd-grade class right now and loving it.”
It was a career decision that took a little while to make but the former Center Grove basketball standout felt comfortable with her first class. “I took a business class my freshman year at Holy Cross and learned that day, business is not for me,” the studentathlete recalled. “The first day I had an education class, I was like ‘Yep, this is what I am supposed to do.’”
Norris is best known for her 3-point shot while on the varsity girls’ basketball team at Center Grove. It was a skill that was so prominent that in 2015 Norris won a fan vote to compete in the High School Slam Dunk and 3-Point Championships.
“Everyone in the Center Grove community really rallied around me. Everyone was so involved,” Norris said about the fan vote. “I had all my friends voting so it was a really cool thing.” I tied for third or fourth. There were eight people from all over the nation and most of them were all-Americans. So I was kind of the outcast because I was the only one that wasn’t a big Division I star.”
While at Center Grove, Norris hit just under three 3-pointers per game with Division I teammates working inside the lane on offense. Regan Wentland went to Indiana State. Ali Line would play volleyball at Illinois State. Bri Gliesmann would see time at Rose Hulman. The Trojans battled to win sectionals her senior year with a 20-7 record after falling to Franklin Central in the three years prior. Her favorite part though was the friendships she made with her teammates.
“Honestly it was just developing the friendships,” she said. “Most of the people that I played with I still have contact with and still see.”
Norris was under the recruiting radar and didn’t think playing in college was going to happen.
“I was kind of late in the recruiting process. I didn’t start talking to people until halfway through my senior year,” Norris said. “I didn’t do AAU or anything like that and Holy Cross ended up e-mailing my high school coach and wanted me to come on a visit. Most of my family lives up here so I was used to coming to South Bend anyway.”
Holy Cross College at Notre Dame did not have much of a basketball pedigree, but Norris thrived on her college team. Her senior season she averaged almost four 3-pointers a game. The 5’7” guard was second in team scoring at 14.7 points per game and averaged a team-best 4.3 assists to go along with 3.6 rebounds. She is fifth in career scoring at the school and broke Holy Cross records in 3-pointers made and 3-point field goal percentage.
She was named to the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference second team this year as Holy Cross had its best season in school history at 16-16. At the end of the regular season, Norris was second overall in made 3-pointers on the NAIA D-II level. It was her favorite season in college as the sharpshooter turned into a team leader.
“I feel like I took on more of a leadership role. We had a lot of young girls on the team so I had more of an opportunity to be a leader. Just making the conference tournament was kind of the biggest thing for me. That was one of my biggest goals this year for our team.”