Special Segment, Sports

Youth at the Newman Academy Special Thank You Tribute – Thanksgiving Holiday Edition

Thanksgiving is a holiday of meaningful purpose, dedicated to spending time with our loved ones while partaking in a Thanksgiving meal. It’s also a day commemorated in our hearts to give special thanks.

The youth athletes at the Newman Academy share their special thanks to Coach Calesio Newman.

Newman, a former US track and field athlete, has significantly influenced the lives of each kid he encounters to help them navigate life. His academy not only trains athletes, but he strives to leave a level of impact that will imprint a lasting impression.

The columnist interviewed some of the Academy’s children as they reflected on what Coach Newman, Coach New, as they call him, means to them.

The youth are goal-oriented in pacing themselves in preparation for their future. The kid’s success ranged from participating in the Adidas Nationals, state competition, and increasing productivity in their jumps, to name a few, while balancing school.

They credit Newman for leading the race as a role model that will challenge them in the game of life.

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L-R, Sabrina Hogan, London Barnes, Iliana Richardson, and Seth Shaw; Photo Credit: The Exclusive Press

Group 1 consists of Iliana Richardson (16), Seth Shaw (19), Sabrina Hogan (17), and London Barnes (12) described Newman as NOBLE-MINDED. They all shared the driven mentality he instilled in them, which influenced their life and track-n-field success. He’s selfless when it comes to helping his mentees.

“He’s like a therapist. He’s there if you ever need and want to talk to him about anything,” Hogan states.

Barnes, who attends the Alpha Academy, states that he dedicated his time to them to improve their life achievements. He routinely sends inspiring messages to his youth group through Group Chat and Instagram reels. “It means a lot for a successful coach like him to invest in them fully,” Barnes states.

Four-time All-American and Regional AAU Long-Jump champ Barnes states, “He’s a great coach that pours into us. He encourages me to try harder and do better for myself.”

Newman cultivates the potential he sees in them to help them get to where they are. He understands any ounce of motivation will help his mentees discover their greatness.

Since working with him, Hogan noticed a significant improvement in her triple jump from last season. Hogan also states with the Exclusive Press that he increased his durability in finishing workouts with a positive attitude.

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Group Two, which consists of N’Diyah Southerland (15), Ginayiah Harrison (10), Joella Smith (16), Ariyon Bell (18), and Michael Sturdivant Jr (17), described Coach New as EMPOWERING. They expressed their gratitude to train under a coach of his caliber, utilizing his tools and expertise.

“He takes what he did and instills it in us, not only from a physical aspect but a mental aspect,” Bell states.

Trusting the process is the key to empowering them in each race. Bell shares in the Newman Academy, they have set training goals. Newman teaches them that setting goals is part of their development process.  “If we don’t meet our goals, we know we’re doing and putting in the work, physically and mentally. His words help me believe I will achieve my goals in the future,” she added.

L-R, N’Diyah Southerland, Ginayiah Harrison, Coach Newman, Joella Smith, Ariyon Bell, and Michael Sturdivant Jr; Photo Credit: The Exclusive Press

Sturdivant Jr.’s secret to empowerment is remembering his training goals inspired by Newman to reaffirm his reason. “Those reminders give me confidence, keep me motivated in track and field,” he stated.

Harrison, who heard about the Academy through a flier, is impressed by Newman’s aura and track record as an athlete. The techniques she learned in practice prepared her when approaching each race. Harrison in her first year qualified for AAU Junior Olympics in her first year ever running.

Newman gives them affirmative confidence that they will achieve their goal if they work effectively.

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Southerland paces herself in each race. “Before I start running, I get in my head and talk to God to mentally prepare for the race and think what I need to do on the track to get here to the finish line,” she shared with the Exclusive Press.

L-R, Camron Calloway, Ahmire Green, Laila Southerland, Kamiah Hardnett, Maliana Watson, and Taylor Fontenneaux; Photo Credit: The Exclusive Press

Group 3 consists of Taylor Fonteneaux (12), Maliana Watson (14), Kamiah Hardnett (12), Laila Southerland (10), Ahmire Green (11), and Camron Calloway (9) described him as a WISE influential leadership. Group 3, ranging from newbies to those involved with the Academy for a year, described Newman as a man with a good heart. He’s a model influencer who infiltrates his wisdom and leadership into the kids to get them through the finish line.

Watson, who attends John Griffin Middle School, states, “He tells us to push through and to keep our grades up so we can be ready for college coaches to look at us.”

Fonteneaux shares that she’s on the field, executing the work whenever she’s not in school. “I’m out there practicing some of the stuff I didn’t know how to do. The coach would make me do it repeatedly until I get it right,” she states.

Newman also helps his mentees to achieve the end goal through endurance from their level of understanding. Green states, “When I get tired and want to stop, he would tell me to think of something like my cat (pet) to keep going so I can see her at the end of the day.”

They shared the training tactics they utilized with the help of Newman to elevate them into fast runners. Group 3, comprised of elementary and middle schoolers, races against high schoolers, levels their competitiveness, gets out of their comfort zone, and strives to reach greater heights.

Hardnett mentioned that the youth training in his Academy can learn from a person of Newman’s magnitude. Newman’s accolades and running performance on larger platforms speaks for itself. “He motivated me to keep my head up and swing my arms when running,” she states.

Just from observing him on the track, they witnessed and modeled his training techniques. Southerland shares that the high schoolers are much faster, but she knows it’s for her good as it pushes her beyond her capability. She knows that Newman’s stretching himself got him to bigger stages in his track-n-field career, which helps her understand that she, too, can do it.

THANK YOU, COACH NEW!

Newman personifies the meaning of a great role model in this ever-changing world. Through the Newman Academy, he strives to be that gleam of hope for young athletes to dig into their fullest potential. The kids are well on their way to success, with a good coach backing them in the corner.

Hurdles symbolism of Life’s Hurdles; Photo Credit: The Exclusive Press

Some kids jokingly shared that they never race against Newman, but they appreciate his caring spirit that helps in the race of life on and off the track. Newman’s ministry on the track-n-field gives each youth in his Academy reNEWed hope for which they are thankful.

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