Born: September 2, 1934 (Clearview, OK)
Graduated: Wichita East High School, 1952; Southwestern College, 1956; Wichita State University, M.A., 1958
The ties between 2016 Kansas Sports Hall of Fame inductee Lafayette Norwood and previous inductees are staggering. From his high school days through his over fifty years of coaching at the high school and collegiate levels, Norwood surrounded himself with greatness.
In high school, Norwood starred on the basketball court for the Wichita East High School Blue Aces, including winning the 1951 state championship as a junior under head coach, and Kansas Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Ralph Miller.
Norwood continued his athletic career at Arkansas City Junior College, now known as Cowley College, and earned All-Jayhawk Conference honors in both 1953 and 1954. As a freshman, Norwood led the Tigers to a runner-up finish in the NJCAA National Tournament and also earned All-American honors.
After two years in Arkansas City, Norwood chose to move just up the road to Winfield to continue his playing career at Southwestern College. Norwood helped lead the Moundbuilders to a conference championship and a berth in the 1955 NAIA National Tournament.
Breaking Barriers, Winning Championships
Norwood’s playing career ended following his graduation from Southwestern and he began his teaching and coaching career in the Wichita school system. In 1969, after several years of coaching elementary and middle school teams, Norwood was named the head coach at Wichita Heights High School. In a time of civil rights turmoil in America, Norwood became the first African American head coach in any sport in the Wichita school district.
As head coach of the Falcons, Norwood took the school to unprecedented success on the hardwood. In eight years at the helm, Norwood compiled a record of 109-56. Norwood also led the Falcons to two state tournaments, including winning the 1977 state championship.
Regarded as one of the greatest teams in Kansas high school history, the 1977 Wichita Heights team was led on the court by Kansas Sports Hall of Fame inductees Darnell Valentine and Antoine Carr. The Norwood coached team set a state record for points scored per game at 90.7, a record that still stands nearly forty years later.
In 1978, Norwood was hired by Kansas Sports Hall of Fame inductee and University of Kansas basketball coach Ted Owens, becoming the first African American assistant coach in KU history. Norwood coached the Jayhawks for four years and helped KU to two Big Eight Championships and two NCAA Tournament appearances.
In 1982, Norwood was named the head basketball coach and golf coach at Johnson County Community College. Norwood coached the Cavaliers basketball team for nine seasons posting a record of 146-136. As golf coach, Norwood posted a record of 796-421, including seventeen NJCAA Tournament appearances.
As evidence to just how influential Norwood has been on athletics, he has been selected as an inductee of over a half-dozen different halls of fame, including the Wichita Biddy Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980, the Conoco AAU Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983, the Southwestern College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992, Cowley College Hall of Fame in 2002, the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2005, the Wichita East Hall of Fame in 2011, and the Wichita Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.