Sports

Race To The Finish Line

July 11th, Tuesday afternoon, at Reid Ross Classical, the columnist watched the athletes prepped before training through the Newman Academy. The columnist met Gavin Flores (17) of Pine Forest High School, Devonte Hill (17), Raysean Hunter (18), and Yazeare Pearsall (18), all recent Cape Fear High School graduates. They are four of the many young athletes trained under Coach Newman. These athletes earned many accolades, like winning relay races in high school competitions and advancing to regional and state levels.

These athletes value caring for their bodies through dieting, resistance, and cardio exercise. Hill’s diet includes drinking water, eating protein-based meals, and getting enough sleep before workouts. In the past five months, Hunter transitioned to a pescatarian diet. Pearsall and Flores cut down on junk food. According to Hunter, training is also a mental mindset in preparing for each race.

The young men shared a special brotherhood bond that shine brighter than the July sun afternoon of their training. Newman’s influence played a significant role in these kids’ lives. They shared stories about the former track and field Olympian’s training strategy and trusted his leadership.

L-R, Gavin Flores, Devonte Hill, Raysean Hunter, and Yazeare Pearsall.
Photography: Tracey Morrison

“Coach Newman always points us in the right direction. He’s a brilliant coach that wants nothing but the best from us,” Raysean Hunter.

“Coach is a supportive! We can come to him for anything. I have a much better connection with Coach Newman than any of my previous coaches,” Gavin Flores.

“It means a lot to receive training from someone of that caliber, so it’s easy to put your trust in him,” Yazeare Pearsall.

“We’re like his sons. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge from him. He will have his proud daddy moments whenever he’s proud of us,” Devonte Hill.

Newman is an asset in the young men’s lives. Four young men are grateful for a coach who invests in their lives beyond track and field. Hill expressed Newman is the type of coach that believes in them.

He builds a positive connection with his athletes that goes beyond the track. Hunter recalled when he sustained an injury, and Coach Newman pushed him beyond his limitation. Hill also adds that it’s more than the track to him. “We’re like his sons. He has always been supportive in football too,” expressed Hill.  

Athletes warming up before practice.
Photography: Tracey Morrison

Flores expresses how he needs a coach like Newman, who will go beyond the call of duty to become an effective runner. Pearsall shared Newman is the coach that always points them in the right direction. “Just having someone that believes in you and cares about you makes you want to go forward and take that extra step in everything,” Pearsall. 

Helping the kids is more than a feeling for Calesio Newman. It’s a goal-driven action for him. Newman, who worked as a Cumberland County School teacher for six years, felt his calling was outside of the classrooms through coaching. “Since the age of 13, I heard minister is my calling, but not in the pulpit,” Newman recalled. 

He founded the Newman Academy in January 2023 to better connect with athletes through and beyond sports. It’s more than track and field for Newman. He provides educational tools to help athletes perform, such as film studies. “I don’t want it to be only for track and field. I want it to progress to other sports, such as football, baseball, basketball, and lacrosse,” stated Newman. 

The Newman Academy also reaches beyond the heights of mentoring young athletes with the tools to become better adults. Athletes learn various skills such as emotional control, problem-solving, finance, leadership, faith, courtship, tact, and self-defense. It’s his goal to provide those services and team up with other businesses and organizations to provide this experience to reach the youth.

Newman’s passion for the youth grows deep within. He wants to give the kids that one-on-one personalized training he missed out on when he was a kid because of his father’s military career. “It’s not about me. It’s about these kids,” stated Newman. 

Newman has that special connection in reaching out to kids by pouring his heart and emotions into helping athletes outperform outside in life. He’s handing the baton to the younger generation to challenge the energy within the finish of the race of life – on and off the field.  

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