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Norton Senior Learning to Coach Hoops With Help From Wheaton

Norton High School senior Nate Steele has spend the winter athletics season as an intern student coach for the Wheaton women's basketball team.

Watching basketball at Wheaton College is nothing new to Nate Steele.

As the son of the school's head athletic trainer Greg Steele, the gym and field house inside of the Haas Athletic Center has become a familiar place for the Norton senior.

Like previous years, Steele is able to watch the Lyons, but this year it is from the bench of the women’s team rather than in the stands. 

With an interest in coaching, Steele joined the Wheaton women’s basketball team as an intern student coach to learn how to better run a team and watch the game from a coaches’ prospective.

While Steele has spent the last three years helping with his brother’s travel team, the move to a college squad put Steele in a new position. Instead of working with younger athletes, he is responsible with assisting a team where every member is older and has more experienced basketball players that may not want to take advice from a high schooler.

“I feel more reluctant to give my advice, because I don’t know if criticizing older people, how they’ll take it. There are times where I feel like I should say something, but I don’t because it’s probably also hard for them too,” Steele said.

Despite his fears, the team’s eventual trust in Steele as he helped with drills and post-game analysis meant a more open dialogue between players and Steele during pratices and after games.

“I think he did a good job in showing maturity and being patient with the process instead of jumping into it. He kind of observed everything first, took it in, and didn’t really give his insight until he was comfortable with the philosophy of the program,” Wheaton women’s basketball coach Melissa Hodgdon said.

With the faster pace of college games, the chance to be part of the team has given Steele the chance to study the game from a new perspective. After games, Steele and the rest of the coaches give their critique of the game, giving him the chance to show what he saw and learn something that he may have missed.

Before the high school season started, Steele was able to make all the games and practices. But with film sessions, games, and practices for the Norton boys' basketball team, which he is apart of, making it to Wheaton has become a bit more difficult. He does however, still attend weekend practices and games.

“We’re running the same schedule right now, which is tough, but it’s good that he was here consistently in the beginning, because when he does come, it’s not like he’s throwing off our routine. He did build those relationships, and he’s already known in the program and he has his role in the program, so it’s easier for him to come on a Sunday,” Hodgdon said.

Next year, Steele is hoping to remain involved with Wheaton athletics when he attends the school as a freshmen. He is considering majoring in environmental science.

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