Bailey Norby’s father wanted to start an exercise regimen for a ‘‘biggest loser’’ contest at his work, but he wasn’t going to do it alone.
Thankfully, his daughter saddled up with him.
“He needed a partner, so I thought since college is coming up, I might as well jump on the train with him,” said Norby, the second-year basketball captain at Forest Lake.
Her companionship paid off big time for dad, literally. He took home a nice chunk of change for finishing so high on the list at work. And aside from the nice father-daughter bonding, the 6-foot-2 post player also saw some rewards.
She lost 30 pounds.
“Usually the bigger girls are much slower,” Norby said.
Norby might be one of the taller girls on a Minnesota high school basketball floor, but when she gets to college, she will more likely be considered undersized. That’s why she wanted to change her physique and add a different element to her game.
“In high school it makes me stand out, but in college it’s going to make me fit in,” Norby said.
That added speed and quickness should help prepare Norby for life after Forest Lake. She recently committed to play Division I basketball at Creighton University in Omaha.
Norby loved the school, campus and coaches during her visit. An added bonus was knowing one of her best friends, Park of Cottage Grove standout Sydney Lamberty, also will play for Creighton. The two have been playing AAU basketball together for several years now.
“It just felt right,” said Norby, who averaged a team-high 17.9 points per game last season.
Rangers coach Jen Wagner believes Norby will make a positive impact at Creighton.
“She is one of the best leaders Forest Lake girls’ basketball has ever had, both on and off the court, and she is a tremendously hard worker,” Wagner said. “She definitely had the talent, but always puts in the hard work needed to continue to take her game to the next level.”
Norby can score with her back to the basket. She can attack the rim. She can hit the outside jump shot. The senior-to-be improved her perimeter game last season and is a proven defender, an asset that should become more valuable as she continues to get faster. Norby also sees the floor well and finds good quality shot opportunities, for herself and for teammates. She also keeps the team as a high priority.
Norby is the face of Forest Lake’s big turnaround. In the past three seasons, the Rangers have improved from finishing 4-14 when she was a freshman to 10-8 to 12-6 in Suburban East Conference play.
“Bailey has been a huge part of that,” Wagner said. “Contributing in a major way on varsity as an eighth-grader, and starting since her ninth-grade season, she has been an impact player from day one.”
Though it’s still four months out, the start of next season already is generating lots of excitement. Good players are returning, and with extra motivation. Forest Lake was one win away from the state tournament last March. The Rangers were upset in overtime by Anoka in the Class 4A, Section 7 finals.
“I can’t wait,” Norby said. “I think we have a great opportunity to go to state this year.”