The man behind the camera

Fayette resident Quintin Norris has become a staple of the Columbia College athletic department.
Sunday, October 24, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:43 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

In the corner of Quintin Norris’ bedroom sits a desk with drawers, shelves and pigeonholes that hold anything anyone might want to know about Columbia College’s sports teams.

Norris, 29, can find every schedule, pamphlet, stat sheet, team picture and roster in a matter of seconds. Most of those statistics are as handy in his memory as they are on his desk.

“Coaches have tried to get me a few times,” Norris said. “Most of the time, they throw one at me thinking I’ll get it wrong, but nine times out of 10, I get it right.”

Norris does admit that he gets stumped on occasion.

“Quintin knows his stats backwards and forward,” said Amber Cox, assistant director of athletics at Columbia College.

Every Monday through Friday, Norris wakes up at 6 a.m. to drive 27 miles from his home in Fayette to Columbia. During the day he works as a switchboard operator, directing calls for the Missouri State Social Services Department. At night, he can be found on the fields and in the gyms of the college behind a video camera,taping games.

For the past four years, Norris, also known as “Wildcat” or “Q,” has been a part of the Columbia College athletics. “I videotape all the sports events at Columbia College,” Norris said, “and I provide them with a little play-by-play action.”

The tapes are used by the Cougars to review their games during practice. They can also be viewed on campus channel 93.

“Never play athletic trivia with him,” said Mike Davis, Columbia College women’s basketball coach.

Norris’ passion for sports developed during his childhood.

“It came from wanting to be involved in school and activities and from what he had seen on TV,” said Norris’ father, Geary Norris.

In his freshman year at Slater High School, Norris was the boys’ basketball manager. According to his father, the girls’ team realized Norris’ dedication and the liveliness he brought to the team and unanimously voted him manager.

“He has been an encouragement to a lot of people,” Geary Norris said. “He is a special person.”

During high school, Norris had to work slightly harder than other students because of a comprehension problem caused by a learning disability. He went on to earn his associate degree by taking business and psychology classes.

“Once he gets it, he gets it,” said his mother, Velda Norris.

Norris stands out for his energy, enthusiasm and love for sports.

During his senior year of high school, Norris and his family visited Central Methodist State University to look into a scholarship for working with the basketball teams. The admissions counselors contacted Davis, and the two met.

“They just hit it off that first night,” his father said.

Norris and his family knew he had found his place.

Norris started helping out and taping games at Central Methodist and became good friends with Davis.

After Norris earned his associate degree at Central Methodist, he continued his involvement in the athletic department.

“With Quintin, you always get a little more than you ask for,” Davis said.

After a couple years, working with the basketball team wasn’t enough for Norris. Coaches and friends encouraged him to broaden his horizons.

He started to help out with the football team. He would spend a week developing plays for the team, Geary said. His father will never forget how happy Norris was when his play would score a touchdown.

“I knew what was going on when I would hear Quintin hollering,” Geary Norris said with a chuckle.

Norris worked with the football team only one year before taking his optimism to another college.

When Davis was offered a job to establish the Columbia College women’s basketball team in the summer of 2000, Norris was one of the first to know.

“He called my house that night. It was the night Dennis Miller debuted on ABC,” Norris said. “The first thing he did was ask me how Dennis Miller was. I told him he was terrible, and as soon as I said that, he jumped in and told me the big news.”

Norris followed Davis to Columbia College, watched basketball games with him during the yearlong recruitment process, and eventually started taping Columbia College’s games.

“We both share the same passion,” Norris said.

Making the transition from the Central Methodist athletic department to Columbia College’s was not a problem for Norris.

“Everyone embraces him,” said Cox. “He is a part of our athletic family.”

Norris has established close relationships with all of the coaches and gets along well with the athletes.

“They are great. They all do a terrific job at Columbia,” he said with a smile.

His taping experience has made Norris a local celebrity. He has been interviewed on radio sports shows and provided play-by-plays.

But radio isn’t the only time Norris has made an appearance in the media.

Last January, he made a television appearance on KMIZ-TV, singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during a Columbia College softball game.

“I was trying to do what Harry Caray does,” Norris said. “We needed to get the crowd into it at about the fifth inning. … I didn’t know this, but Kevin Lewis and Beau Baehman were behind me doing their job when I was doing mine.”

Baehman, sports director at KMIZ, and Lewis, the sports reporter, filmed Norris singing and broadcast the performance.

The next day, Norris was surprised.

“I didn’t know this until the following day and Amber (Cox) told me I was on the Beau’s Bloops,” Norris said.

Norris has a copy of the video sitting on his television stand.

“All the media guys love him,” Cox said.

Being a part of the media lets Norris live out a little of his dream job. If he could have any occupation, it would be to broadcast a top-level football game.

“I would love to do a game on ABC on Monday Night Football or do a college football game on Saturday,” Norris said.

Even if Norris doesn’t become an ESPN announcer or an NBA cameraman, he has made a name for himself in Columbia.

“You will never find anyone who will believe more in a team to the very end,” Geary Norris said. “The team can be down and Quintin will never give up on them. He’s got that spark and will not quit.”

As any victory for a Columbia College team comes to an end, Norris can be heard singing “Turn out the lights, the party’s over,” from behind his camera.

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