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Izzy Norton overcomes all odds to play softball for Plainview

Beau Bearden
bbearden@gannett.com

Most people won’t experience a life-altering event before their freshman year of high school. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, but it’s not all that common.

However, when it does, it takes someone special to defy the odds and come out on top. Izzy Norton proved she’s that kind of person after the freshman overcame what appeared to be insurmountable odds to play for the Plainview High School softball team this season.

“I could definitely not have done anything — I could have quit,” Norton said. “But I’ve tried my hardest — worked out a little bit, trying to get my strength back and I’ve done as much as I can to go back to exactly how I was. And I’ve gotten there.”

But it wasn’t an easy journey, as Norton even being here today is a blessing. She experienced a cardiac arrest in March and according to her father, Mark, she wasn’t alive for almost 20 minutes.

Norton had to have a defibrillator implanted and spent about three weeks in the hospital. That may be interesting enough for some to bring up in casual conversation, but that’s not the route Norton prefers to take.

“I try not to make everyone really notice,” she said. “I try to do everything everyone else does. I can't do everything everyone else can. I can’t work out like everyone can, but I try as much as I can.”

Izzy Norton, center, talks to her teammates during a game earlier this season.

That doesn’t mean the Lady Indians and coach Kenna Hunter aren’t there to support her if something is wrong.

“They look out for me with everything,” Norton said. “If they can tell I’m not feeling OK, they’ll tell coach. They’re pretty good with knowing.”

Norton also said Hunter has a backup plan if something happens and she’s made many trips to visit her at her house.

“She’s pretty good with it,” Norton said.

But it’s still a difficult topic for Hunter to talk about, especially with everything happening during a pandemic.

That prevented her teammates from visiting in person during her recovery, but they made sure they were there in spirit.

“Our girls all made a video of themselves telling her to get well,” Hunter said. “She was in the hospital for two or three weeks during COVID. Her dad wasn’t allowed to stay there. It was just her and her mom and I know she got really bored. I Facetimed her a couple of times to just kind of keep her spirits up. I know that was really, really hard.

“At that time, it was kind of uncertain about what she’d be able to do and what she wouldn’t be able to do,” Hunter continued. “We’re very, very thankful that she can still be a kid and still go have fun and do the things she enjoys.”

She not only enjoys softball, but also having a teammate who is like a sister — Plainview’s freshman pitcher Brooklyn Charnock.

“I’ve known Brooklyn for a long time, so it’s good to be able to rely on someone like that,” Norton said. “She knows what I’ve been through, so it’s easier for me to be out there with someone who actually understands what I’ve gone through.”

And the duo has another bond as a pitcher-catcher battery, which dates back to when they were young and during junior high and travel ball.

“They’re both used to each other and they know each other's work and all that kind of stuff,” Hunter said. “It’s going to be really neat to see how they progress as they get older through high school and how much better both of them get.”

And it’s also a good situation for Norton to be playing catcher, as any other position might put her at higher risk.

“The doctor said she plays the best position on the field, just because she does have all the protective gear,” Hunter said. “We’re very, very fortunate that she’s still able to play. And this kind of keeps her going.”

And Charnock and the rest of her teammates are grateful to still have their friend in the dugout.

“It’s pretty amazing how she’s still here today,” Charnock said.