The Voice of Norwich Sports - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

The Voice of Norwich Sports

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NORTHFIELD, Vt. -

For 20 years, before every Norwich home game, they've heard the voice of Paula Gills.

A Detroit native with a folk singing background, Gills came to work at Norwich in the late 1970's, but it wasn't until the early 1990's when she got a chance to perform the National Anthem before a women's basketball game.

"I practiced and practiced for days and just let it rip.  After it was over she (the women's basketball coach) called me to the bench and said, 'guess what?  You're doing this for every home game,'" Gills said.

She's been singing anthems around campus ever since, becoming an honorary member of the hockey team along the way.

"Even our opponents really enjoy watching her sing," Norwich Head Hockey Coach Mike McShane said.  "She's so talented, so skilled and she adds a little emotion so that gets the guys going, and me too."

"She does a great rendition of the French and English version of the Canadian Anthem and we really appreciate it,"  Norwich Forward Chris Duszynski said.  "She does an awesome job."

Gills has performed before some big moments, including at Fenway Park in 2012.  That game, because of bad weather, had Paula scrambling for a spot to sing.

"I didn't have time to be scared so I just opened my mouth and let the words start coming out," Gills said. "By the time I got to the end, I guess I didn't mess it up."

Paula won't be singing at Fenway this year when the Cadets make the trip to Boston on January 9th.  However, she's fine with that, because now she can sing the National Anthem before the men's basketball game on campus that day."

"That's the kind of person she is,"  Norwich Athletic Director Tony Mariano said.  "She's been a big part of Norwich Athletics since she's arrived and we appreciate everything she does for us."

"I'm a grandma and I'm singing the national anthem for these kids, it's just awesome that they want me,"  Gills said.

The lungs of Miss gills, for two decades, a tone setter for the Cadets.

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