Madison Edgewood has selected Jesse Norris as its new football coach, the school announced Wednesday.
Norris replaces longtime coach Al Minnaert, who stepped down in November. It was recently announced that Minnaert will be inducted into the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in March.
“It is an honor to be chosen to take over from Al Minnaert, who has accumulated more wins in his career than any other Madison football coach,” Norris said in a statement. “I have three key components to my coaching philosophy: Do you love the Crusaders football program? Can the Crusaders and I trust you to do your best? Are you committed to your fellow Crusaders on the field and in life?”
Most recently Norris has been offensive line/tight ends coach for the acclaimed St. Thomas Aquinas High School of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, working on head football coach Roger Harriott’s staff.
In a letter of recommendation, Harriott praised Norris for “his systemic football acumen, administrative skills and technological knowledge to enhance organizational needs off the field.” He added: “He has proven to be a devoted coach, mentor and educator. His ability to cultivate healthy relationships (has) been an added value to those he serves and leads. He is well-versed in the art of inspiring student-athletes to live their lives with virtue,” and provides “appropriate player social-emotional development, academic enrichment and football support for holistic pursuits.”
Edgewood conducted a national search and received a wide range of applications, including from Utah, Texas and Florida. Members of the search committee agreed that Norris stood out. He was interviewed by phone, by the committee, by parents and players and he visited the Edgewood campus.
“We were all impressed by Jesse’s energy, passion, compassion, reliability, accountability and well-developed knowledge of the game — he is the whole package we were looking for,” Edgewood athletic director Chris Zwettler said. “Though young, he already has more than six years of high school and college coaching experience. There is no doubt that Jesse is the right man to carry on the traditions of our Hall of Fame coaches, Wilke, Chryst and Minnaert. I’m confident he will adhere to the values Edgewood embraces and that he will be instrumental in helping to develop our players into young men who are strong on the field, in the classroom, and as members of society.”
Norris is a native of Lima, Ohio. He played wide receiver and linebacker for Hillsdale College in Michigan, advancing to the NCAA Division II playoffs and earning recognition as a three-time Academic All-American.
He coached receivers and backs for Culver-Stockton College for three years. During that time, the Wildcats had their first winning season in more than a decade, and Norris coached a significant improvement in player/team performance, increasing passing yards by 75 percent, more than doubling passing touchdowns and doubling offensive scoring overall.
Norris took the Shawnee High School (Lima, Ohio) assistant football coach and head track coach position for a year and then moved on to be head football coach at Plantation High School in Florida. He compiled a 2-8 record in 2016, but was dismissed after his one season there, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
Norris said the move to Wisconsin is driven in part by a desire to “come home” to the Midwest and be closer to family. He and his wife, Kelly, will be living in Madison with their daughter.
“Edgewood is a place that has a close-knit, welcoming, atmosphere,” he said. “This feels like a place I can settle down as I raise my own family and become part of a larger family of colleagues, students and parents. I look forward to becoming part of the rich Madison football tradition and I look forward to building relationships with area coaches and the community overall.”
Edgewood has scheduled an open meeting with Norris for students, parents and others in the school community at 6 p.m. Friday at Krantz Center.