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Checking in with Matt Norlander

CBS college hoops writer and podcaster spent formative years in Vermont
Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 7:49 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - We are deep in the heart of Summer, and for most people, college basketball is probably one of the furthest things from their mind. But that isn’t the case for one national journalist who spent his formative years in Vermont.

Matt Norlander is a senior college basketball writer and podcast host for CBSSports.com, one of the leading publications covering the sport in this country. He knows all the big names, has gotten to cover the Final Four, and every once in a while, he stops back in to write about the team in the town he called home growing up.

With his father working in the hotel business, Norlander compares his childhood to that of a coach’s son, bouncing around the country, and that eventually brought him to South Burlington late in elementary school. Norlander would stay in the Green Mountain State until just a few days before his senior year of high school, and he credits one semi-traumatic experience at SBHS with setting him down the road towards a career covering hoops.

“I was huge into playing sports,” Norlander said. “I played freshman year. Sophomore year tried out for the JV team. My mom bought me the then new Jordans because I thought I was gonna make it, and then like after a week he cut me. That was devastating. And then actually weirdly enough, when I moved to Connecticut my senior year of high school, I was the second best skiier on the team. So I did skiing when I moved for my final year, which was a blast there...but it was just funny, if I had tried out for the ski team in Vermont, I don’t think I would have made it either. Moved down to Connecticut, totally different deal there. So was very much around it, around the teams, and around the players, but it kind of set me on the path I guess for the path I landed on there, you know, more documentation than participation.”

Basketball may or may not have been Norlander’s first love: he is also an avid fan of all different kinds of bands and music, regularly posing music related “Trivia Times” to his basketball podcast co-host Gary Parrish. Norlander says the music scene in Vermont may have done even more to shape him than the sports side of things did.

“I remember Nectars actually being one of my first images of Burlington when I moved there,” Norlander said. “Just kind of the nature of the sign, when your drive down there, you kind of realize what it is. And not understanding why, not all but some of my friends were big into this band that was from the area, and I didn’t quite get it. I guess I was ok with Phish, I like them a lot more now than I used to. I’m still not like a hardcore but I’ve seen them. I’ve gone to the Garden, taken the train down from Connecticut to watch them but yeah pretty awesome and vibrant music scene.”

The COVID-19 pandemic limited Norlander’s ability to cover college hoops in person last season, but maybe we’ll see him make a return to Patrick Gym to cover a game this Winter.

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