As there is in his own. Children and animals seem to be everywhere. Before the Saturday morning hocker game, an army of Nortons appears to vacuum the house, wash the clothes and take care of all the other chores that must be completed before playtime. Jobs are listed on schedules displayed in the hallway, alongside tutoring schedules of comparable length. Norton has definite views on education. He believes much of what is being taught in schools today is a waste of time. In keeping with this philosophy, several Norton children were allowed to abandon formal schooling when it threatened to interfere with talents the family considered more important.
The most notable Norton dropout is 20-year-old Beth, who in 1975 was ranked No. 1 among 18-and-under girl tennis players in the U.S. Now a fledgling pro, Beth has played at Wimbledon and Forest Hills. Tim Norton, 22, has also appeared on the pro tennis tour, but in recent months has devoted much of his time to coaching Beth and one of his adopted sisters, Sue Ming, who is playing the junior New England circuit.
"Tennis was considered a sissy game when I was growing up," says John Norton, who was 43 when he first swung a racket, "but then I learned that tennis, like hocker, was another game we could all play and enjoy."
No sooner had he taken up tennis than Norton installed an outdoor court and equipped it with lights. Then when New England winters began cutting into the family's court time, he built one of the handful of private indoor courts in the country. From the outside, it looks like a colonial dairy barn. Inside it is spectacular, clearly worth its $150,000 price tag. Three ball machines are on the sidelines along with several shopping carts of balls and a scale model of a hocker field outfitted with miniature goalposts, grandstands and tiny plastic players.
The model is part of a presentation Norton is currently making to corporations, in the hope that one of them will decide to promote hocker worldwide. "All sports have to start somewhere," he says. "A hundred years ago there was hardly any baseball or football. I've watched hocker develop from a strictly family game to a team sport, and I am convinced that someday it is going to be bigger than either baseball or football."
That is a pretty big order, but then, Norton is accustomed to doing things in a pretty big way.