Norwood Strengthens Family Name at Mason

February 19, 2012   ·   0 Comments

by Cody Norman

Photo Credit: Stephen Kline

It’s a family thing.

When Brianna Norwood runs out onto the floor, taking her spot at center court for the Masonettes, she feels her brother’s presence as she stands on the same floor he once stood on for the Patriots.

Norwood’s brother, Gabe, was a versatile guard for the Patriots from 2003 to 2007 and served as Jim Larranaga’s sixth man during the team’s incredible Final Four run in 2006. He was loved throughout the Fairfax community and is now loved in the Philippines, where he has continued his professional basketball career.

“It’s between him and Manny Pacqauio [for most popular athlete] out there,” Norwood said.

At just six or seven years old, Norwood began making four hour trips from State College, Pa. to watch her brother play for the Patriots. She watched him and his teammates turn Mason into a perennial powerhouse within the Colonial Athletic Association, all the while keeping her eye on the Masonettes.

“I remember always watching the Masonettes,” Norwood said. “I knew this is where I wanted to come and dance ever since my brother graduated.”

Now a freshman, Norwood has helped maintain the tradition of excellence that the Masonettes have developed over the last several years.

For the second consecutive season, Mason’s beloved dance team traveled to Florida and finished in third place amongst schools and institutions across the country. Up until last season, the team’s highest fin­ish was fifth place in 2006.

“Our ultimate goal was to know that we couldn’t have done anything else,” said Michelle Chin, who is finishing her 11th sea­son as coach of the Masonettes. “And they did it. They were awesome in the finals.”

The team began preparation for the tour­nament in September, choreographing a routine and sometimes practicing twice a day to improve. With just six days of vaca­tion during winter break, the Masonettes worked hard to perfect 1:50 pom-pom routine.

“I don’t play any sports but my brothers love that I dance,” Norwood said. “My dad loves that I dance. And, a lot of times, they tell me I work harder than they do.”

Their halftime performances and spirited cheers are only a small glimpse into what the Masonettes are truly about. Their long, hard hours of practice are oftentimes over­looked but, each time they take the floor, they strive to be the best.

And every time Norwood takes the floor, she strives to perform at the same level as her brother did while he was a star for the Patriots.

“Having Gabe come here, I always think he showed out on the court,” Norwood said. “And so am I. Even though I’m not playing, I’m dancing. So I’m going to perform like he did every time I’m on the court.”

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