Fan expresses support on social media

Bill Norvell prepares to snap a photo for social media. Norvell attends many UNA events and frequently interacts with the community.

by Managing Editor Mike Ezekiel

If anyone attends a community event and sees the tall, gray-headed man with UNA apparel and a smartphone, do not be surprised if the person he is taking pictures of becomes Facebook famous.

Meet Bill Norvell, a retired freelance writer who wrote the book “Inspiration from Anytown, USA” about Florence.

Norvell’s book, published last year, consists of 30 chapters, which highlight 30 members of the Shoals, 15 males and 15 females.

In addition, Norvell makes a point to take photos all over campus of various students, faculty, staff and coaches to bring them attention.

UNA Athletic Development Officer Megan Lovelace has a chapter in Norvell’s book. Lovelace said it was an honor he considered her for the book, and she enjoys when Norvell promotes the athletes.

“I think (the athletes) love having a fan that knows who they are,” Lovelace said. “He comes out to all the games to see them and cheers for them and wants to promote their sport.”

Norvell frequently posted about the softball team’s success this past season, which broke the school record for most wins in history. This meant a lot to the players, said senior first baseman Brooklynn Clark.

“It’s good to have his support,” Clark said. “He does a lot for us. He puts it all over social media when we have games, which brings in a lot more fans and gets the community interested in us. We appreciate him.”

With almost 5,000 Facebook friends and a strong interest in networking, Norvell said he did not desire the “golf retirement” as many do.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had great times on the golf course,” Norvell said. “But I am so thankful I didn’t go to the golf course. If I would’ve spent my time (at the golf course), I would have missed out on literally meeting thousands of fascinating people. My retirement has been so much better than a golf retirement.”

Norvell said he believes new technology is his niche.

“When I first got an iPhone about five years ago, I didn’t really know what to do with it,” Norvell said. “I’m an older guy, and we didn’t grow up with this technology. Next thing I know, I took a picture of someone, and one or two people said ‘Hey, I know them.’ The feedback has been unbelievable.”

Lovelace said the Shoals area needs more passionate people like Norvell.

“He is a great supporter of UNA and a great supporter of the Shoals community,” Lovelace said. “I think the community and UNA are lucky to have him as a friend and a fan.”

Norvell does not limit himself to Facebook, as he frequently uses Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other platforms to network. Norvell said the root of his networking was not only to bring attention to the Shoals community, but also to reunite with old friends.

“I love the interactions,” he said. “I consider what I do connecting people. I’ve had hundreds of people tell me through my posts that ‘Hey, you connected me with someone I haven’t seen in 20 years.’ That’s what makes it fun for me.”

Norvell said getting attention on his posts is not near as fulfilling as making a new friend.

“I don’t put things out there just to get a bunch of likes,” he said. “When I do social networking, I make a point to get to know every person that I’m friends with.”