One last stand: Norton prepares for senior year

By Jonah Rosenbaum

Two years ago, when she was just a sophomore, senior outside hitter Meg Norton was a part of the girls’ volleyball team’s state championship run.

The banner that hangs in Taper gymnasium commemorating this feat has the name of every member of the team, but only Norton still has a chance to raise another.

In less than a year, she’ll be trying to beat Trojans and Huskies just down Coldwater Canyon, with the UCLA Bruins. Norton does not hesitate when asked what she wants to do to fill the time.

“The last two years we’ve come up short, but this year we have the talent, experience and determination to win state,” Norton said.

Though she did not have a leadership role on the team from two years ago, Norton says the lessons gained from that run are helping her be a better player this year.

“I was forced to take more of a backseat role because it was my first year on varsity and I was the youngest member,” Norton said. “Having the experience of being on varsity two years prior to this season has prepared me to become more of a leader on and off the court.”

Head Coach Adam Black has witnessed Norton’s transformation to a senior leader firsthand, and says her contributions to this year’s team, both as a player and leader are invaluable.

“Her role on this team is to be a leader and play well,” Black said. “She is good volleyball player who knows the game and can play it at a high level. That alone is a big contribution to the team. As a leader, Meg has began to take on the role of holding teammates accountable which is going to help us in the long run.”

Norton’s volleyball season does not end when Harvard-Westlake plays its last game. She has played on the same club team for nine years, and between the two team commitments, Norton trains almost non-stop.

“I started playing club volleyball in the third grade because I loved the competition that came from the games,” Norton said. “It is incredibly fast paced and exciting to play at such a high level. During school season, we practice every week day. When school season is over I practice with my club team, on top of working out with a personal trainer and a personal skills coach.”

Black believes the extra time Norton puts in gets her ready for the Harvard-Westlake season.

“Meg’s passing has improved a lot since her first year as a varsity player,” Black said. “I think playing volleyball throughout the year has been a positive influence on her game as it is with everyone who plays club and devotes extra time to get better.”

In her time at Harvard-Westlake, Norton has also become a leader for her teammates.

“Meg is a leader on the court both verbally and emotionally,” teammate Kellie Barnum ’11 said.

Though Norton had already been subjected to quality coaching and a high level of competition prior to arriving at Harvard-Westlake, she credits the school and her three years on varsity with greatly improving her ability.

“My individual game has improved tremendously since being at H-W,” Norton said. “Since we practice every day for four months, I am able to correct bad habits by repetition,” Norton said.

Norton’s improvements did not go unnoticed, as she was persistently recruited by a number of schools and likely would still be rifling through piles of letters had she not ended the speculation by committing to UCLA her sophomore year.

“I chose UCLA because I wanted a combination of rigorous academics and competitive volleyball. UCLA can offer me both of these. The Los Angeles weather doesn’t hurt either,” Norton said.

Black said he wouldn’t be surprised if Norton finds some playing time early on.

“Meg is a fighter,” Black said. “I think she will do fine at UCLA fighting for a starting spot. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her on the court at some point in time during her freshman year. She just needs to get used to playing with and against people who are just as good or better.”

Norton has a simple goal for her time at UCLA.

“I want to win a national championship,” Norton said.