Jan. 23, 2009

By Amy Farnum Novin
NCAA.com

Illinois College's Candace Norville is the ultimate example of a student-athlete, with a special emphasis on the athletic part of the term.

The junior from Batavia, Ill., has competed in five different sports for the school's athletic program, and is on track to finish her collegiate career with at least 14 varsity letters in the spring of 2010.  Norville plays basketball, tennis and women's soccer, and runs for the track team in both the indoor and outdoor seasons.

A talented multi-sport athlete at Batavia High School, Norville first looked at Illinois College because her father and three siblings had attended the school and wanted to carry on the family tradition.  Plus, with only an enrollment of about 1,000, the opportunity to participate in multiple sports was still an option.

"Since it was a smaller school, I figured I could still play all the sports I had in high school - tennis, basketball and track," said Norville.  "Everything worked out with my coaches and they all understand my schedule and that I may come late to some of the seasons, so it was the perfect fit for me."

It has fit pretty well for Illinois College's athletic department as well.  Norville has competed for the tennis team in the fall at the No. 1 singles position for the last three years, and is the starting point guard for the women's basketball squad.  She was named All-Midwest Conference as sophomore, and currently leads the team with 15.6 points per game.

In her spare time, Norville runs for track team, and owns school records in the 800 meters in both indoors and outdoors. Last year, she was a NCAA Division III provisional qualifier in the heptathlon.

Never backing down to a challenge, Norville added soccer to her repertoire last fall.  After running into the captain of the men's soccer team, he told her the women's squad was looking for players and had a new coach.  The next thing Norville knew, the coach had tracked her down and asked her to play. 

There were two obstacles - soccer and tennis both competed in the fall, and the last time she had played soccer was on an elementary school co-ed team when she was 10 years old.  Neither of those held her back.

"I told the coach if I could fit it into my schedule, then I would help the team out," said Norville.  "He was very lenient and I only missed two games during the season."

Norville earned a starting forward position, and ended up being the team's co-leader in points with nine.

Despite so many activities to juggle, Norville has found a way to excel at all of them.

"Practice is usually only two hours in the evening, so I've always been prepared for that," said Norville.  "In order to get extra work in, sometimes I just have to wake up a little earlier.  If I have a break in classes, then I try to fit in something extra that I can do.  I never overwork myself, but I do use my time wisely."

Brenna Kelly, the school's women's basketball coach, knows how to balance her time after coaching two sports for much of her career, but is still impressed with the Biology major's dedication to both athletics and academics.

"It is unusual, especially for a basketball player," said Kelly.  "Basketball takes up quite a bit of time during two semesters.  She comes in really good shape, and works out on her own and in the off-season to stay ahead of the game.  She's outstanding, plus she's a good student.  I think that's so important that it's not affecting her academics."

Norville, who was named the school's 2008 Homecoming Queen, says tennis is her favorite sport because she can be girly as she wants with her hair and nails done and still be athletic.  However, she wants to improve most in basketball because it would benefit the whole team.

Although playing multiple sports may not be for every student-athlete, Norville believes anybody who wants to do it can.

"It's just a matter of managing your time in a better way," said Norville.  "Sometimes, people think it's very difficult.  I wouldn't say it is extremely difficult, but I think it takes a little more patience and a lot more planning."