Jesse Norris’ career as a high school coach in Clark County has been short, yet also successful.
This week, it took another step — or rather, a big leap — when Norris was named Clark College’s women’s basketball coach on Thursday.
“I’ve been blessed to have talented people — student-athletes who play hard and work hard and adults who’ve supported me,” Norris said, “so hopefully that will continue.
“What’s kind of cool about this next step is I get to choose who gets to be on my team.”
Norris, 35, spent the past three seasons as Columbia River High’s head girls basketball coach. This past season, River captured its first league title since 2006, and reached the Opening Round of the Class 2A state tournament.
Norris works as a Structured Learning Classroom teacher at Kelso High School, specializing in teaching students with behavioral issues.
His time coaching basketball in Clark County began in 2017 on staff with the Washougal girls and assisted the varsity team that won the Class 2A title in 2019. Then, the following season, his Ridgefield boys junior-varsity team went 20-0.
Norris said his three years leading the Columbia River girls as a first-time head coach helped pave the way for taking his next coaching step of running his own college program.
“I’m hoping to be able to do the same thing,” Norris said, talking about enforcing values and developing a culture. “Meeting (the players) where they’re at and then showing the direction we want to go through hard work and humor and getting along.”
Currently, Norris said Clark has zero returning players from the program’s 10-17 season this past winter.
With the amount of high school talent in Clark County and surrounding areas, there’s no question he wants to capitalize on that when building a roster annually. Norris also plans to do community outreach to showcase the team and further build a fanbase.
“It would be cool to build a culture there instead of, ‘Oh, a commuter school that has a basketball team,’ ” the coach said. “Now, I actively get to go talk to people and get people to buy into this and what we’re doing.”