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Graduating Talawanda to Graduating Champions: Three Oxford native student-athletes share their Miami experience

There are 16 varsity teams here at Miami University, with nearly 600 total athletes. Of this number, just four attended the local high school in Oxford: Talawanda High. People typically think college students try to move away from home, but for these athletes you couldn’t seem to get any closer.

Junior Dalton Norris is a defensive lineman on the football team, who majors in sports leadership and management and minors in general business.

He has lived in Oxford his whole life and picked up football once he reached second grade. Growing up, he knew he wanted to play football in college, but he often contemplated where to commit.

He eventually landed at Miami because of the strong connection he made with the head coach, Chuck Martin, who he had originally met back in middle school. Norris also wanted to give his parents the best opportunity to watch him play football without having to travel long distances.

“I’m really glad that I decided to stay here because I’ve met my closest friends I’ve ever had on Miami’s team,” Norris said.

His favorite memory at Miami was earlier this school year when the team went to the Bahamas Bowl and played the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He described the experience as cool and said he and the team had a good time being there. Part of the fun occurred on the beach of their Atlantis resort while both teams battled in a dance-off.

“Luke Bolden got robbed of that title,” Norris said. “You can quote me on that. He should have won.”

When Norris isn’t on the field, he loves to go to his favorite place in Oxford, which is Faded Traditions barber shop. He also enjoys picking up a pound of mild wings and a calzone from Doughby’s to split with his roommate after a late night out.

He also points out some downsides of living in Oxford, which include parking Uptown and around campus and being called a “townie.”

First-year softball player Madie Patton is much newer to the Oxford scene. She moved here almost three years ago when her dad was hired as the offensive line coach for Miami football. After moving from city to city, this is now her sixth home.

She started playing softball while living in Oklahoma when she was 5 years old. While she loved living there, she has also enjoyed living in Oxford.

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“The people of Talawanda and just the whole community of Oxford are just amazing,” Patton said. “I loved it for the nine months that I went there and now I love the people I have met here … it’s been a great experience.”

Patton studies sport media and communications and journalism at Miami. She hopes to work for a professional sports organization in a larger city closer to Oklahoma after graduation.

Sports have consumed a good portion of her time at school, so she tries to see her family every few weeks. When the school year comes to a close, she spends time with her sisters walking around the city. Her favorite spots to visit include Graeter’s and El Burrito Loco.

Softball does not stop for Patton in the summer. She works as a counselor for various youth sports camps in the community.

Another Oxford native Miami athlete, Mercy Patterson, a marketing and fashion business major, is a member of the swimming and diving team and currently swims sprint butterfly and backstroke.

The 19-year-old has lived in Oxford her whole life, and she began swimming at 4 years old. She knew early on that this was something she wanted to do at a high level. Miami felt like a good fit for her, athletically and academically, so she committed.

She speaks very highly about her decision to come here.

“You have everything you need here in this little town, and it’s kind of like a little bubble,” she says. “Nothing that awful ever happens and you know all your friends and family are here, so I like it.”

The Patterson family not only owns Patterson’s Cafe, but Paesano’s Pasta House and Cru Gastro Lounge as well.

When she isn’t swimming or doing homework, she spends her time working at one of the restaurants in town. Her go-to meal is the fettuccine carbonara at Paesano’s, which she highly recommends.

As much as she loves her time here, Patterson does plan on moving to New York City in order to pursue more fashion-related opportunities.

“In schools, there’s not a lot of fashion stuff going on yet and that goes for a lot of smaller cities too. So you kind of have to branch out into those bigger cities with more opportunities,” Patterson said.

Although Oxford has brought these three student-athletes together, the city serves as a place for them to create their own unique stories to tell.