A Legend Retires but the Future is Bright

How long do workers stay in their jobs today? According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, the average is 4.4 years. This makes what Tim Norris has accomplished that much more impressive. Tim began coaching Ski Jumping at Proctor Academy in 1969 and in 1976 started the Andover (NH) Outing Club. When did he retire? This September. That’s right, Tim Norris coached Ski Jumping in Andover, NH every single winter for the last 48 years! That is hard to even imagine, especially given all the work that has to go into hill preparation and the nights and weekends that coaching Ski Jumping requires. But now a new era of Ski Jumping begins in Andover with Chris Jones, and I cannot think of a better person to fill Tim’s shoes, which are certainly some big shoes to fill (no pressure).

I could go on and on about Tim’s accomplishments, but I think the athletes he produced speak for themselves. Andover is a fine but modest facility- there are K10, K20, K30/38 hills with lights, snowmaking, but no plastic, and the town has about 2000 people. You wouldn’t believe that it could produce Olympic caliber skiers but that is the magic of Tim.  Over the years his programs have given the USA five Olympians, including Carl Van Loan (2002, and 2006 Olympian), Nick Fairall (2014 Olympian), myself (2002 Olympian), and cross country skiers Kris Freeman (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 Olympian) and Justin Freeman (2006 Olympian) who were both products of Tim’s programs and ski jumped for many years. Tim also coached Chris Lamb who was a long time Ski Jumping National Team member, and so many more athletes. And though Olympians get a lot of the attention Tim’s philosophy was that “the worst athlete needs to feel as important as the best, if not more because otherwise why are we doing this.” Tim built character, perseverance, courage, and compassion, which are much more important than the number of Olympics an athlete attends.  The results of his efforts are everywhere, and it is because of these that he was inducted in the Ski Jumping and Proctor Academy Athletics Halls of Fame this year.

So now Chris Jones will steer the ship for the Andover Outing Club, and will be charged with re-establishing the Proctor Jumping program, which has been relatively inactive in the last couple of years. Chris is the perfect fit. He is a product of both the Andover Outing Club and Tim and also a Proctor Alum. After graduating from Proctor Academy in 2004, Chris spent a year living in Coleraine, MN training and competing. He then attended UNH, and earned a degree in Athletic Training, and for the last three years Chris has been an athletic trainer at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, VT. This past summer Chris and his wife Lindsay decided that they wanted to relocate closer, and Lindsay is now teaching art at Claremont Middle School. Chris’ position has him being an athletic trainer in the fall and spring, and allows him to be a full-time Ski Jumping coach in the winter. He will coach AOC, Proctor, and also continue to be the coach for the New England Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined (NESJNC) club, see article here. Proctor Athletic Director Gregor Makechnie says “we are confident Chris possesses the technical ability, personality and enthusiasm for ski jumping to reestablish the proud tradition of jumping at Proctor.”

I have spoken with Chris on multiple occasions about the new position. “I am excited to be at AOC and Proctor and to be part of the programs that gave me my start, and have produced so many quality athletes.” Chris has plans to go into the local schools and begin recruiting and has also volunteered to help other clubs in the area on their efforts to boost participation. With the strong program at Ford Sayre, and the facility upgrades happening at Lebanon, central New Hampshire is poised for a big step forward in the next few years. We are looking forward to it and excited for Chris to be a big piece of the puzzle.

For those who are interested, there will be a Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Reunion hosted by New England Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined and honoring Tim on November 11th at the Eastman Golf Links in Grantham, NH. RSVP to Bill McCrillis at WMcCrillis@gmail.com or call (302)898-4296.

By Jed Hinkley

2 Comments on “A Legend Retires but the Future is Bright

  1. This is a great piece on Tim’s philosophy and accomplishments as well as Chris’ experience and goals. Proctor Academy, Andover Outing Club, and clubs around Andover were most fortunate to have a leader so devoted to building and sustaining the sports of Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined as Tim. Many of the dividends of Tim’s efforts are obvious, but the passion Tim brought to the hills and athletes could only be felt rather than seen… perhaps making it difficult to describe but easy to feel from the bottom of everyone’s hearts who Tim touched.

    I’m one of the fortunate skiers who Tim touched, both as a competitor and coach. Despite my best efforts, I can’t thank him enough.

    Jed Hinkley described Chris as “the perfect fit” to succeed Tim. Chris’ background and quoted ambitions complemented by Gregor Makechnie’s confidence in Chris provide great foundations for Chris to carry on and move forward. Consequently, we at NESJNC “Flying Further” couldn’t agree more.

  2. Jed Hinkley wrote a great piece on Tim Norris’ commitment to and accomplishments in supporting and developing the sports and athletes of Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined in the Northeastern United States.

    Tim’s coaching philosophy and talents for working with athletes and their family members did indeed produce remarkable results… many of the dividends from which are obvious, such as the huge number of athletes and families he introduced to the sports and many of his protégés becoming national and Olympic team members. Perhaps less obvious dividends may be how Tim touched the souls of his protégés… how he made them believers in themselves and their teammates so that they not only elevated their own competitive Jumping and X-C performance levels but so that they and their family members acquired at least a portion of Tim’s passion for the sports so that they would coach other athletes and help with hill preparation and event activities. Those are legacies that maybe more difficult to see and/or articulate; however, they are easy for Tim’s protégés to feel… with great warmth and appreciation from the bottom of our hearts.

    Jed also did a superb job capturing Chris Jones’ background and ambitions, as well as Gregor Makechnie’s confidence in Chris, that make Chris the “perfect fit” to become Tim’s successor to sustain and move forward the programs that Tim and Tim’s Crews established and grew for more than four decades.

    Jed Hinkley, another Proctor/AOC guy who like Chris acquired Tim’s passion, really nailed it… A Legend Retires, but the Future is Bright!

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