At the beginning of the golf season, SouthWest Edgecombe’s Eric Norville was at the top of his game shooting in the low 70’s. Towards the end of the season, the rising senior’s game went down hill as he posted scores in the 80’s and 90’s.
“I couldn’t draw the ball and every time I tried to fix it things just got worse,” Norville said. “I would hit shanks everywhere. I just couldn’t fix the problems.”
His problem was not golf related. He began having migraine headaches coupled with neck pain. Along with the pain he was throwing up.
With the persistent pain, he told his parents, Scott and Tina Norville, about the problem. Obviously concerned, his mother scheduled a MRI. When they got the results back, the 17-year olds life changed. Norville was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor on his brain.
“It really didn’t even bother me,” Norville said. “I just felt like it was another thing.”
After the initial shock, Norville and his family took the next step by planning to have the tumor removed. After long consultations and doctor visits he was admitted to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville for surgery. The surgery was a success.
A week or so later, Norville got the surprise of a lifetime when his friend Burt Williams invited him to play in the Pro Am Tour with celebrities and pro golfers at Cutter Creek Golf Club in Snow Hill.
“It was just a dream come true for me,” Norville said. “I’ve always wanted to play in an event like that.”
Williams, who is the director of golf at Cutter Creek Golf Club and Norville have known each other for several years. The two became acquaintances when WIlliams worked at Maccripine Country Club in Macclesfield ó the club where Norville is a member. Williams often gave Norville tips to improve his game.
Norville may have used those tips during the event at Cutter Creek. He was teamed with Hollywood actor Lucas Black. Black had roles in “Sling Blade,” “Jarhead,” “Friday Night Lights” and “The Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift.”
“It was crazy playing beside a famous person,” Norville said. “He was a funny guy. He wasn’t the type of person who was stuck up like most. He communicated with me and most of the time he brought up the conversations.”
When Norville took to the course, he noticed something different about his golf game. It had improved since the surgery.
“I played good in the event,” Norville said. “It felt good to be able to get back out there and play and see people doing the same things that I can do on the golf course.”
Off the course, Norville isn’t allowing the disease to take a toll on him. It hasn’t stopped him from doing the things he wants to do. Over a week ago, he began his first round of chemotherapy and Monday he started radiation treatments. They were the first of many treatments to come.
Through it all, Norville continues to stay upbeat while battling the dreadful disease.
The radiation has made him weak, but it has not deterred his thoughts on his future in golf. Taking the first step of a long journey, he has kept a positive attitude. Norville said, “I’m not going to give in.”
“Eric has always been a real positive person,” Scott Norville said. “He is not worried about the cancer and he doesn’t want anyone else to worry about it.”
The SouthWest golf team is hosting a benefit tournament for Norville, August 7-8 at the Maccripine Country Club.