Joe Norskov is our Manager of Development, kickball coach, and outside of work, ultimate frisbee coach to a great group of high schoolers. We’re proud to have him on our team and love that he extends his leadership skills beyond the walls of Red Arrow to the greater Knoxville community. We sat down with Joe to hear more about how he carries his work ethic and attitude over to instill the same in his team to prepare them for the challenges they’ll face on and off the field.

Joe has also been asked to speak at Knoxville’s PechaKucha Night May 10th so if you’re in our area, come check it out!

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Tell us a little bit about what you do as Manager of Development here at Red Arrow.
My role is to work within our development team to research industry trends, organize our evolving slate of new show ideas, and keep our ideas moving through the pipeline from development to post to pitch to network. I also interview prospective talent, maintain existing talent relationships, and generate new show ideas. I wear many hats and it’s fun because I’m never quite sure what the day will bring. Some of our research topics are unpredictable and sometimes really esoteric or obscure. It’s really helped my dinner party conversation!


What’s your favorite thing about working here?
One of the many perks I enjoy at Red Arrow is having a flexible schedule. That flexibility to arrive and leave early allows me to volunteer with an incredibly fulfilling local organization: Knoxville Youth Ultimate. As I have volunteered as a high school coach and I’ve found that consistency is key in building the trust needed to succeed. If I didn’t have this flexibility I wouldn’t be able to attend the number of practices I believe are required to maintain a successful team.


For those of us who don’t know, what exactly is ultimate?
Ultimate is a non-contact field sport (diagram for reference here) that combines elements of soccer, football, and basketball. The object is to score a point in the end zone similar to football. The game is played 7 versus 7 and the disc must be thrown to advance, but the thrower can pivot as in basketball. Games are played to a set score or time and offense and defense switch immediately, similar to soccer.  The most distinguishing feature about ultimate is not the high level of conditioning, hand eye coordination, or mental rigor required to be competitive, it is the referees. Well, the absence of referees that is. Written into the rules is the concept of Spirit of the Game. “Ultimate relies upon a spirit of sportsmanship that places the responsibility for fair play on the player. Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors, adherence to the agreed upon rules, or the basic joy of play.” (find out more here!) Each player is responsible for knowing the rules, calling fouls, and resolving differing opinions on the field without sideline input. This creates an environment in which personal accountability, problem solving, and conflict resolution are naturally developed.


It sounds like there is more than just physical ability involved – that it’s about knowing the game and strength of character as well. How do you prepare you team for this element of the game?
This group of skills can be called SEL or social and emotional learning. “SEL is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”  (see more here!) In order to develop these skills, the coaching staff will have conversations with our players about what Spirit of the Game means, how it applies, and model good spirit ourselves. This gradual development is a little different for each personality and each situation, but we have great student athletes so it’s not difficult. The process has been greatly rewarding, and I’m anticipating many enjoyable years ahead. I feel very grateful to be a part of a company that values community engagement as much as I do and am proud to coach such great student athletes.  


You all just accomplished some longtime goals, right?
This year is my 4th year as part of the coaching staff for L&N STEM Academy. The 9th grade athletes who joined the program the same year I did are now graduating seniors. They have worked long hours to become a strong team. Not long ago, the team lost many more games than they won. Other hardships include a tragedy off the field in 2016. Michael Buckley Durst was a senior when he was involved in a fatal motorcycle accident. He had an infectious joy and tenacious curiosity about life and embodied the spirit of the game. I wear a bracelet to this day with our team’s remembrance to Live Like Mike. He approached life with such voracity and passion and his memory has motivated many to do the same.

Through determination and hard work, our team began to improve over the years. We achieved a longtime goal of winning the Tennessee state title in 2017 – a first for any Knoxville team. This year, we achieved the hard-to-believe dream of an invitation to the High School National Invite, which is essentially the sweet 16 of high school Ultimate. In June we’ll travel to Rockford Illinois to compete against the best of the best from all across the United States. Just this past weekend, we defended our state title to win back-to-back 2017 and 2018 High School championships! Needless to say, we are giddy.


You’re also speaking at Knoxville’s PechaKucha night this year. How did this opportunity come about and what do you hope people will take away from your talk?
My motivation for PechaKucha is twofold: I saw my friend and former RAI editor give a talk about fermentation and canning last year and was surprised by the wide range of information she and her fellow presenters imparted. I enjoy talking about ultimate and thought it would be a great opportunity to bring awareness to a growing sport. In my talk, I plan on discussing the importance of play in life development, the necessity to engage in physical activity, introduce the sport of ultimate, and why I think ultimate offers the best avenue in which to achieve the positive benefits of youth sport. My three-word take away from my talk is “Play is important.”

There are many presenters that night on a variety of topics. Each talk is exactly 6 minutes and 40 seconds because of the format of 20 slides showing for 20 seconds each. It’s a fun way to learn more about the Knoxville community!

Click here for more about STEM.
Click here for more about Knoxville Youth Ultimate.