Norwell's Chief from the Seats
Cathy Springer Norwell's #1 fan
By The Den's Mike Rice
Whether it be history, fine dining or the wide world of sports, America is chalked full of famous duos and combos.
Lewis and Clarke, peanut butter and jelly, Springer and Norwell. They each represent a pairing so perfect to their genre, even Bluetooth can’t touch it.
While the latter of those three unions may be relatively unknown outside of the Ossian area, it is a tale deserving of much wider recognition.
Cathy Springer grew up in a sports driven family. Her dad, Jim Haneline, so dearly loved the Notre Dame Fighting Irish that he requested the university’s fight song be played at his funeral.
Many of Cathy’s memories of her father center around the collegiate powerhouse from South Bend, including the last NCAA March Madness the Springer's watched together, shortly before her dad passed.
To this day, Cathy remains a huge Notre Dame fan and recently purchased season tickets to the men’s basketball games, which she attends with her daughter, Kristy.
However, it is another blue and gold attired team who grabs the lion’s share of Cathy’s consideration.
Just shy of her 59th birthday, Springer has been a fixture at Norwell High School Athletic events since her parents began taking her to basketball games when she was just 2 or 3 years old.
Over the next fifty plus years, Cathy went from a basketball watching toddler to a die-hard fan and connoisseur of all things Norwell.
As the 1979 graduate put it, “Norwell is me”.
Cathy with Austin Anderson a forever friend in the
United States Navy and daughter Kristy
On her way to becoming Norwell’s NUMBER 1 FAN Cathy has witnessed three baseball state championships, but her support for the Knights isn’t of the fair-weather variety.
She was there through the football program’s lean years and has watched the Norwell basketball programs grow into one of the area’s elite on both the girls’ and boys’ side.
A devout Christian, Springer see’s her “unconditional” support of the Norwell athletes as part of “God’s plan for my life”.
It’s a plan that sees Cathy serving as a self-described “loudmouth” fan, a friend and, at times, a mother figure.
When asked to describe one or two of her fondest Norwell memories, Springer smiled as she spoke of the time a member of the boys’ basketball team introduced her to his girlfriend, a student at rival Bellmont, as being like “his second mother”.Springer’s support isn’t confined to the grounds of Norwell High School. She’s a big Norwell roadie, attending games throughout the state, at times, being recognized and welcomed by Athletic Directors who appreciate her enthusiasm.
She’s also a fan of the Crusaders, Norwell’s Middle School program, and the program’s younger travel teams, who she likes to give ‘the support they deserve”.
Springer recalled how she once struck up a conversation with a group of third grader girls, while watching a high school basketball game.
She shared her snacks with the contingent of pee wee fans and in the process learned they all played on one of the Norwell travel teams.
As fate would have it, the girls had a tourney the following morning. Springer made the drive to Heritage High School to watch them play and surprise them with another round of snacks.
Seven years later, the girls are now Lady Knights and Springer is still cheering for them and ready to provide an extra snack or two, if needed.
Her level of commitment and intensity isn’t for everyone, Springer knows that. However, to her, she’s just fulfilling a plan put in place by someone with far more authority than herself and doing her part to sustain the Norwell fan culture, which she described simply as “We love our kids”.
When Cathy isn’t busy celebrating the latest Norwell victory, she enjoys spending time with Richard, her husband of thirty-six years, and the family’s four dogs Ollie, Rosie, Gunnar and Lucy, as well as attending weddings of former Norwell athletes she remains close to.
She also looks forward to talks with her younger sister Chris, who is also a die hard Norwell fan.
However, since moving to Fort Wayne, Chris hasn’t been able to keep up with the Knights, as much as she would like.
Rest assured, though, her big sister is there to keep her up to date and filled in on the lives of those kids she loves so much.