Kate Norton Takes Leadership Role At Surf SC As New Associate Director of Coaching – Girls
Always striving to be the best, Surf SC is bringing in additional big-name coaching talent this year. Here is the latest new hire for their leadership team.
Kate Norton has an impressive soccer resume. As the University of Arizona assistant coach, Norton helped guide the Pac-12 team to rank #6 behind Stanford, UCLA, USC with a total of 17 points for the season after 13 overall wins. Arizona’s Wildcats finished the season in the top 25 in the National RPI Ranking in DI Women’s Soccer after advancing to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row.
Norton began her role at Surf SC as the Associate Director of Coaching – Girls on March 1st after leaving the University of Arizona at the end of February 2019. Prior to being a collegiate coach, Norton was at the MLS’ Seattle Sounders and was the Director of Soccer Operations for FC Tucson.
A U.S. Soccer Scout for the past two years, Norton has also been on staff with the Federation’s coaching training center since 2016. While she must step down from her role as a scout for our national teams since joining Surf, Norton will remain a member of the US Youth Soccer Region 4 coaching staff.
Norton is a strong believer in education and studied Early Childhood Education at the University of Cincinnati where she was consistently provided with academic awards holds a masters in Leadership from Southwestern College.
Rob Becerra, Senior Director of Coaching at Surf SC said, “Kate Norton is the next piece of the puzzle — she has a phenomenal soccer mind and a great ethical spirit. Kate loves coaching kids and we are so excited to have her as Surf’s Associate Director of Coaching – Girls.”
SoccerToday Interview with Trailblazer Kate Norton
Diane Scavuzzo: Why join Surf SC?
Kate Norton: I believe Surf SC is moving in the right direction and I look forward to continuing to build a championship culture. After coaching at Arizona in the Pac- 12, that’s a big deal to me. I take pride in what we achieved with the Wildcats.
Surf is a youth soccer club well known for their 11 national championships and its focus on player development. I take a lot of pride in being named the Associate Director of coaching on the girls’ side — it’s a big deal.
To be able to work with and for Rob Beccera with his pedigree is an honor. And this gives me an opportunity to put my stamp on things on the girls’ side.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you find most impressive about Surf as a youth soccer club?
Kate Norton: Surf wants to provide kids with the best opportunities and the best environment — and they accomplish this. Some clubs say “We want to be the best,” but they don’t know how they want to be the best and they haven’t ever been the best.
Surf has had many successes in the past and now they’re once again raising the standards of youth soccer.
I definitely feel fortunate and take pride in wearing the Surf badge. I’m here to work hard. I’m here to advocate for the players, and I’m here to put them first. Whatever their individual goals are, I’m here to help them whether it is making the DA team, getting a Di scholarship, or if it’s winning a State Cup or a National championship.
I’ve been to the training sessions last week, and I’ve seen the coaches and players in action and Surf puts their money where their mouth is. They produce national team players and their graduating class has every kid on their first team committed. Even their 2019 class has 17 plus players committed to schools.
I think we talk a big game, but at the same time, we also come through on it.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is your coaching philosophy?
Kate Norton: My coaching philosophy is a holistic approach.
I am very competitive and want to win at everything I do, but with my educational background, it’s really important for me that whatever team I have, whether it’s for one session or for an entire year …
I want every kid who plays for me to become a better soccer player.
If they weren’t an elite holding center mid, I want them to become an elite holding center mid.
I also want them to be a better person, a better teammate, a better sister, a better citizen. For me, it’s a very holistic approach.
And, you have to lead by example.
I believe you have to be organized because if you’re organized, I think that shows your commitment.
Then there is the integrity piece — we’re adults and we’ve been granted the opportunity to teach these young women on a regular basis over the course of years. I think you have to take this opportunity seriously, and you have to have integrity and understand that it’s about the players and it’s not about you as a coach.
In youth soccer, it’s tricky because some coaches forget it is really about the players. For me, it’s got to be about the players.
Diane Scavuzzo: So it’s not about the coach getting a State Cup trophy. It’s about the players winning State Cup?
Kate Norton: Absolutely. It should always be about the players — except when we don’t do something well — then I’m going to take the blame. When they win the game and execute, it’s all them.
Diane Scavuzzo: How do you think your education as a teacher helps you be a better leader, a better coach, a better director?
Kate Norton: A coach is a teacher.
You have to approach coaching knowing that everyone learns differently. If a player is a visual learner or an auditory learner, to really coach effectively, you have to approach the player the way they learn and absorb information. You might say something to one player three times — and when you show them on a little whiteboard, they get it.
I think that guided discovery is the best way to help players develop.
It’s not a monologue of me telling players how to play. It’s me showing them and then asking questions to ensure that they understand the content that we’re covering that day at training or during halftime.
I’m asking questions, and they’re not yes or no questions but questions to actually make the players think.
I want to create an environment in training and in games where it’s okay to ask questions. It’s okay to be wrong. One of the things I tell kids, whether it’s a goalkeeper or a center back — is that they’re organizing the people in front of them and they need to be talking.
And even if they’re saying the wrong thing, at least we know what they’re thinking and that’s great.
Then we can have a discussion about it. But it’s always more discovery-based than me telling them exactly what I want them to do.
Diane Scavuzzo: Youth soccer players need to learn how to make decisions on their own — if a coach is always telling them what to do, they’ll never learn how to make a decision ….
Kate Norton: Yes, some coaches are still coaching players like joysticks. It is kind of an outdated term now because kids don’t know what a joystick is but we’ve all been at games where the coaches tell kids what to do the entire time. That is just horrible. I wouldn’t want to live my life that way.
You have to put players in situations where they can fail and then teach them how to get better.
It is important to balance this — a coach can’t always put players in a situation where they’re going to have success or where they are going to be constantly out of their comfort zone. You have to find that balance where players are not frustrated all the time, but also not in an environment where they’re always successful and everyone’s telling them, “Good job, good job, good job. You’re so great. You’re so great.”
Players deserve an environment where they are going to have to solve problems and sometimes not solve them the right way. We’ll talk about their challenges and we’ll figure it out together. And, I want players to be able to turn to a teammate and ask a question — as opposed to always turning to the coach to solve it.