Don Norford
Long Beach Poly

Don Norford Inducted Into National Hall Of Fame

Legendary Long Beach Poly track and field coach Don Norford has received an enormous honor. Norford, the state of California’s most successful high school coach ever, was inducted into the inaugural class of the NSAF National High School Track and Field Hall of Fame.

Norford was one of just two coaches inducted into the Hall’s inaugural class.

“I am so grateful, this is something every coach would like to have happen and it happened to me,” said Norford. “I’ve been honored with a lot of awards but this is something else.”

Norford coached at Poly from 1976 until his formal retirement in 2014, although he’s continued as an assistant football coach since then. In 38 years he coached 45 future NFL players on Poly’s football team and became the only assistant coach to ever be named NFL High School Coach of the Year in 1996. He was inducted into the Long Beach Century Club Hall of Fame three years ago.

The track is where Norford’s influence was felt most deeply after being hired as head coach of Poly’s boys and girls teams in 1989. Norford’s Poly teams won 18 state titles and 25 CIF Southern Section championships. To put those numbers in perspective, Norford retired with more state championships in his sport than had been won by any other high school in the state across all sports.

Norford’s teams set national records in the 4×100 and 4×400, winning several national championships and multiple world titles at the Penn Relays.

Norford’s athletes at Poly won 61 state championships in individual events and 150 CIF-SS individual golds. He coached several athletes who went on to become Olympians, including Bryshon Nellum and Ariana Washington.

“We didn’t do anything that other people weren’t doing,” he said. “We worked hard, we believed in the kids, and we loved the kids. We were blessed with some tremendous athletes.”

The other coach inducted alongside Norford was legendary York coach Joe Newton, who coached 28 state championship cross country teams in Illinois, a story made famous by the film, “The Long Green Line.”


Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.