Tad came to El Paso as a first year defenseman after a disappointing ’05-’06 season in Juniors.
The always positive Snowmass, Colorado native proved to be the consummate team player and leader as he went on to become the Captain of the ’06-‘07 Rhinos team.
As a player, Tad was always willing to do whatever necessary to win, and always stayed level headed which made his appointment to Captain by his teammates an easy choice.
The heady defenseman took the ice with the top power play and penalty kill teams for the Rhinos, but Tad never proved his quality more than his first season with the Rhinos as he led the team in scoring throughout the playoffs and the 2007 National Tournament.
Starting the ’07-‘08 year in Soldotna, Alaska as a result of playing for the Kenai River Brown Bears of the NAHL.
Tad played most of the season with the Brown Bears, but with the trade deadline looming and the Bears mathematically out of a playoff spot, the possibilities of getting on a playoff team didn’t seem too promising.
This unfortunate situation for Tad proved to be fortuitous for the Rhinos, via some very hard work by Player Personnel Director Trevor Converse.
The Rhinos were able to procure Tad’s rights and welcomed him back with open arms.
Playoffs were upcoming, and the Rhinos defense corps was running low due to injury, Tad’s was a huge pick up for El Paso right at the roster freeze.
Unfortunately Tad’s “give your all” attitude became his undoing.
Tad injured himself in a blowout game, and wasn’t able to take a regular shift for 3 weeks.
Tad’s never quit drive kicked back in as he worked with the Rhino’s team doctors and therapists to get himself healthy enough to skate and not miss a shift in the Conference Finals, and every game throughout the rest of the post season.
“I told Coach Herman Tad was done for the year”, but he worked unbelievably hard to get back, he wasn’t going to be denied, it’s a shining example of Tad’s passion, to work so hard to get back on the ice”
-Mark Scott – Head Trainer El Paso Rhinos
Tad skated every regular shift as well as his spot on the top power play and penalty kill throughout the Conference Finals, League Finals, and National Tournament, and was also named to the WSHL Thorne Cup Championship All Tournament Team.
The way “Bad” Tad completed his eligibility with the Rhinos, is the way he will always be looked upon by The Rhinos organization…..as A Champion
What schools were you looking at, and/or who was recruiting you?
I talked with a couple schools and decided that University of Wisconsin River Falls was the place for me.
Were you recruited by UWRF (Head) Coach (Steve) Freeman or a being Colorado guy was it Paul Frank?
I was initially recruited by the assistant coach Bob Ritzer early in the season, and as things got more serious and I was trying to decide between schools, I developed a greater line of communication with Head Coach Freeman.
What was the process like?
The recruitment process was very easy and professional. Most of the recruiting was done over the phone due to the distance, (Alaska) before I made my big move to El Paso.
The UWRF coaching staff made me feel very comfortable, and with Coach Herman and Trevor Converse working in my corner, I knew everything would work out fine..
What sold you on UWRF?
I was sold on UWRF’s tradition of winning. I became accustomed to winning in El Paso. UWRF is part of a very competitive conference with a beautiful facility; and adding a quarter million dollar training facility and locker room.
Do you feel you’re well suited and prepared for the college game?
Anytime you take a step in hockey, there is going to be an adaptation period. I feel that with my development these last two years I’m definitely prepared for the college game, even though it’s going to be a little different than the grind and jam of junior hockey.
Work ethic was never a problem for you as a Rhino, what do you feel will be your biggest obstacle in college?
By far, the biggest obstacle will be getting back into the swing of things academically. After a three year hiatus, the study habits will be a little rusty.
After playing your first year as the Captain for El Paso you made the NAHL Kenai River team.
Do you feel playing in El Paso helped you prepare for the step up?
– Absolutely!. Playing a full year under Coach Herman, even though he can be a man of few words, I learned tons about the game through his coaching.
You played the entire season to that point in Kenai, and you came to El Paso right at the trade deadline.
Was your family supportive of the idea of returning to El Paso?
– The fam has always backed me in any decision I’ve made. It was no different when I decided to come back.
In retrospect did things work out well for you coming back?
– It was a win, win. I had the opportunity to play in the NAHL and then finish the season with a playoff run in El Paso…..Thorne Cup Champs 07-08.
What is it that makes Coach Herman a good coach?
– I think Coach Herman has a great knowledge of the game and an even better ability to read players.
He can think situations out before they come up in a game, and put the right players on the ice for that moment. He also has this uncanny ability of when and how to motivate his players.
Last year we had 5 that moved on and yourself that came back for the playoff run.
It looks like this year we’ll be moving all 7 – ‘87’s (Parker Harrison, Bo Hernandez, Sean Molina, Tad Norris, Anthony Paulsen, Alec Sherman, Marcus Wilhite) and 1 – ’88 (Costi Hinn).
13 players in 2 years.
What do you feel is the biggest reason The Rhinos to have been able to have so much success in moving players on to college and higher leagues?
– First off, the player development in El Paso is second to none. Coach Herman’s practices, and off ice activities, demand players to work their hardest all the time.
Also the team’s great success in the past two years has opened eyes everywhere. It’s almost hard not to recruit to El Paso.
Coach Herman has told me on many occasions that he wants his ex-players to feel like they can come back anytime, be it to help run camps, train for an upcoming season in college, rehab, or just to get some ice time and stay close to the program.
This has to be a little different for you, you were the Captain of the first ever Rhino’s Team and one of the architects of this organization.
Looking back over your time in El Paso, you have to be proud of the strides the program has made.
Do you have any special thoughts, or hopes for the program in the future as you now take your next step?
– I can only hope that the program continues to grow and become more and more successful.
Will you stay in touch with Coach Herman and the Rhinos program in the years to come?
– Without a doubt!. The Rhinos’ program and Coach Herman made a great impact on me and life.
Tad is a player that every Coach loves to have. He is a born leader that leads on and off the ice. We were very fortunate to have Tad for two years, one of the biggest reasons we had such great chemistry our first season was because of him. Tad will have success where ever he goes; he has a great attitude and loves a challenge. I wish Tad all the best in the future it will be very hard for us to find another “Tad Norris” to wear the Rhino uniform -Cory Herman Head Coach El Paso Rhinos