March 2, 2011
No matter what you call him, Colton Norton is happy to contribute any way he can to the Vols' success.
After getting a win in a match with a "dual match atmosphere," the freshman from Jackson, Tenn., is looking to spend this spring practicing and getting better every day so he can crack the lineup in the future.
Affectionately dubbed "Colt Daddy," Norton has adjusted well to college life--whether it be classes or Division I athletics.
In this week's Q&A, Norton discusses his many nicknames, how he found his way on the team and an awkward first day.
Q: Let's talk about the nicknames first. The guys were teasing you just then with "Go Daddy." We've got "Colt Daddy," "Frat Daddy," "Sloth." Where are all of these nicknames coming from?
A: Well the first one I had was just "Colts", an abbreviation of Colton. Then Bryan (Swartz) gave me the nickname "Sloth" when we were on a trip to Alabama. I pretty much slept the whole five-hour trip down there. He started calling me "Sloth" because I sleep on all the road trips. "Colt Daddy" came from when I rushed to a fraternity, so they kind of combined "Colts" and "Frat Daddy" into "Colt Daddy." Now it's just "Daddy," that's the most popular one.
Q: What's your personal favorite?
A: "Sloth" is kind of derogatory--not my favorite. I'm fine with "Colts" or "Daddy" is fine. It really doesn't matter.
Q: The way you ended up with the team was pretty unique. Can you share how you got on the team?
A: I knew I was coming here to UT already regardless of whether I was going to play. I emailed Sam in the summer before I came just to see if he was interested at all or if I had any kind of chance. There's an NCAA rule where you can only be in contact one time before I'm considered an official recruit, so he could only talk to me once over the summer. He just said, `Come see me whenever you get to campus, and we'll just go from there.'
So I got here for classes and came to the office to talk to him. He pretty much said he would let me have a tryout basically. It was during the offseason when we were doing voluntary hitting, so he would come and watch from afar for a couple of weeks as a tryout. Then one day, he came and said that I was good to go.
Q: Where you at all intimidated by the process?
A: Yeah, I remember the first day I came I was pretty nervous, I guess. I came in here and went to Sam's office. I wasn't aware an entire team meeting was about to happen, so I was in there with the whole team. I don't even know if they knew what I was there for, so I felt a little bit awkward. Once I got the first day out of the way and the first hit out of the way, I gradually got a bit more relaxed.
Q: Growing up in Jackson, Tenn., have you always been a UT fan?
A: Yeah, my entire life I've always been a UT fan. I've wanted to go here, and I was pretty sure I would go here for awhile.
Q: So is this a big deal for you?
A: Yeah, I was very excited obviously. We finished second in the country last year, so just to be able to come in, being a fan of the school already, and then to come on to one of the very best teams in the country, I was very excited.
Q: You mentioned being the No. 2 team. How can you help improve that?
A: Well, my ultimate goal--obviously anybody's goal--is to work my way onto the lineup. Obviously, we have some of the best players in the country, so it's not something that I'm trying to rush. I'm not expecting to be playing by the end of the season. I might not play next year, but it's just something I'm working towards--playing in the lineup and hopefully contributing at some point.
Q: How can you improve as you go along?
A: I think just hitting with guys that are flat-out better than you helps you. You just gravitate towards their level when you hit with them. It's an everyday thing--just try to get a little better every day.
Q: It's tough coming in as a freshman just to adjust to college classes, much less adjusting to being a college athlete. How have you adjusted to being both a student and an athlete?
A: I think I made a wise choice to just take 13 hours each of these past two semesters just while I get used to everything. I never really went to the gym a whole lot, so the one thing I've had to adjust to most is the amount of weight-lifting and conditioning we do.
Q: What are some of the changes from the fall to the spring?
A: One thing, I moved dorms. I went from Morrill to Gibbs, which is nice because now I'm living with Jarryd Chaplin and Hunter Reese, the other two freshmen on the team. That's made me a little more connected with the team. Other than that, the main change is starting the outdoor season--the main season. The fall is more prepatory just to make sure you're hitting your stride. Those are really the only differences.
Q: Talking about being connected, the team is a pretty close group. How have you found that you've fit in?
A: I couldn't have hoped for a better situation. Everyone just really embraced me. I had a nickname after I had been here for like a week. It's just really close. We're forced to be together on the court because of practice, but we still hang out off the court all the time. I'm just really pleased with the general atmosphere on the team.
Q: What are some of the things you personally like to do off the court?
A: I play a good bit of Xbox. I really like to play Fifa; it's one of my hobbies I guess. I try to stay on top of my grades. So school and Xbox are the two big things for me.
Q: I know Jarryd is your suitemate. Have you seen the Valentine's Day video?
A:Yes, I have. My girlfriend is actually in the video.
Q: Right, that's what I was going to ask you about. Any jealousy of the "Freshman Aussie" giving a rose to your girlfriend?
A: (Laughs) No, it was actually really funny because Rachel (his girlfriend), Jarryd and I were in my room the day before talking about how he was going to do the video. She was kidding around like, `hey, you should come find me and give me a rose.' It just so happened they crossed paths in the library. You could tell from the video that it was completely spontaneous, so that was really funny.
Q: This past weekend you played in a match and picked up the win. What was that experience like?
A: I was definitely pretty pleased. I got a few wins in the fall, but as far as the quality of the team we were playing against, this was my best win that I've had. It was really nice since I'm not in the actual lineup I don't get a lot of chances to play matches, so I was just happy I could get in to seize the opportunity with a win.
Q: Were you nervous at all? What was going through your head?
A: I played a few tournaments in the fall, and that kind of got the jitters of my first match out of the way. I know I wasn't part of the dual match, but this was the closest to a dual match atmosphere that I had had. I guess I was maybe a little bit nervous. I didn't start out my match that well, so maybe that had something to do with it. I guess I was nervous, but once I got settled in, it was fun.