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Basketball coach Brad Newsome retires— Winning games, molding men

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Some basketball coaches are just coaches, their influence confined to the court. Brad Newsome was the other kind. In his 16 years coaching Yellow Springs High School boys basketball, Newsome not only crafted athletes, he molded men.

Even today, Newsome, known to most as “Coach Brad,” receives more than a dozen texts on Father’s Day from former players.

“He was a great basketball coach, a better ‘father’ and one of the best people I know outside of my grandfather,” said former player Paul Hull.

As Andrew Richlen, class of 2003, put it: “Not only would he try and build good basketball players, he would also try to help you grow as a man as well.”

Newsome stepped down this month as head coach, a position he has held since 2000. He leaves as the winningest boys basketball coach in YSHS school history, but his bond with players beats all his decorations. Newsome wouldn’t trade in those relationships for five state titles, he said this week.

“We mutually touched each other’s lives,” Newsome said of his players. “That’s more important to me than the wins, losses, trophies.”

A YSHS alumnus and former amateur basketball player, Newsome brought his formidable basketball skills to lead many YSHS teams to successful seasons. His accomplishments speak for themselves:

— 182 victories in 13 years, more than any other YSHS boys basketball coach

— 26 home wins in a row over four seasons, the longest streak in YSHS history

— #3 ranked team in the state in 2002–03, the school’s highest ranking ever

—18–2 in 2002–03, tied for the school’s best regular season record

— 1 district championship, in 2004, in addition to 5 Metro Buckeye Conference championships

Newsome, honored to have coached for his hometown and to have been part of such a storied basketball program, resigned to take time off, saying he feels both physically and mentally exhausted. Though he’s already received a number of coaching offers, Newsome, who owns the eco-friendly merchandise store Ecomental, will take a break from basketball for now.

“I genuinely walk away with nothing but love in my heart for these kids and the community,” Newsome said.

According to one former player, the program was fortunate to have had him.

“I had a lot of coaches in many sports in Yellow Springs and I don’t know if anyone has cared about Yellow Springs athletics more than him,” said Dustin Rudegeair, class of 2004. “Yellow Springs would be lucky to get someone who cared half as much.”

Newsome’s long Yellow Springs basketball pedigree includes a father who played at YSHS and two brothers on the 1972 district-championship team, while Newsome played on the 1984-5 team and coached his son, Roland, for the last four years. When he was eight years old, the local boys would lift Newsome up to unlatch the high school gym doors on weekends so they could play pick-up games. He even refashioned the old YSHS backboard into his desk.

“My feelings for Yellow Springs basketball run deep,” Newsome said.

While the head coach, Newsome revived the memory of the village’s strong basketball tradition. Decades ago, the village was well known in the Dayton area as a hotbed of basketball talent. So Newsome spearheaded efforts to officially retire the jerseys of standouts Charlie Coles and Kenneth Hamilton and erect banners honoring the district champion teams. He also organized annual alumni tournaments and invited alumni to return to speak with the team.

“Yellow Springs had a great basketball tradition before me and it will after me,” Newsome said. The community of current and former players and coaches became known as “Bulldog Family,” a term Newsome coined and which came to best represent his coaching genius. The phrase was used to break huddles (“1…2…3…Bulldog Family!) and emphasize camaraderie.

“We may go through some battles and wars together, but we love and trust each other and have each other’s backs,” Newsome said of the term. “It’s not about winning a couple of games — it’s a relationship for life.”

Many look at Newsome, the longest tenured coach in school history, as continuing the Yellow Springs basketball tradition of excellence. And it was his personal touch that most made a difference for his players on and off the basketball court.

Newsome was a strict disciplinarian who worked his players hard in practice and didn’t accept anything less than 100 percent effort, former players said. They saw his passion for the game, and strove to emulate it. That’s how he was able to get production out of even below average athletes, they said. “You wanted to win for him” is how Hall explained it.

To help his players succeed, Newsome organized youth camps and travel teams and even drove players who lacked transportation. He set up study tables during the season to help his players stay above a C average, a mandatory requirement he set. When a player was having trouble at home, he helped them get professional help. He made sure many could reach their dream of playing ball in college, and 18 of his players eventually did so. Socially, Newsome invited players over to summer barbecues at his house or to watch basketball games. Close friendships with players were paramount, according to Rudegeair, and never got in the way of the coaching relationship.

“The thing that stands out for me is his ability to really be an authoritative, hard-nosed coach on the basketball court but as soon as practice or a game was over, he was a friend,” Rudegeair said.

In the words of Hall, “He understood that basketball was important, but life was more important.” Newsome has had a lasting impact on his player’s lives.

Rory Hotaling, class of 2004, wasn’t sure college was for him but ended up following Newsome’s example and maxim to always give maximum effort. He got his degree from Ohio Wesleyan in four years.

“I realized that if you put your mind to something and really work at it you can accomplish anything,” Hotaling said. “The only way to fail is to not give 110 percent.”

Newsome worked hard to keep local youth on the right track with basketball, believing that the sport could help them the way it helped him.

“As a young man, my dad died at an early age and my mom was sick, so basketball became a healthy outlet for me,” Newsome explained. “I wasn’t running around on the streets. I would go to open gyms…it became therapy for me, it became an escape.”

After graduating from YSHS in 1985, Newsome went into the Air Force, where he continued to play basketball. He was selected to try out for the Air Force team in 1991 and made it past the first cut. Newsome played on pro-am teams and even played against NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson. Wally Sikes, a family friend, said Newsome was talented back then, and still has an exceptional jump shot today.

“He was an unusually gifted player from the time he was a little kid and he has a very good understanding of the game,” Sikes said.

Newsome joined the YSHS coaching staff as the freshman coach in 1996 with no prior coaching experience but quickly “caught the coaching bug,” he said, as he came to love watching his players grow. Newsome was a five-time MBC Coach of the Year award winner and also received the Ohio High School Athletic Aassociation Outstanding Achievement Award. In 2010, Newsome went on to organize the Jr. Pro Youth Basketball league as a feeder program for the high school.

Eventually, Newsome got creative in his efforts to motivate players, according to former YSHS high school basketball coach Bill Randolph. Newsome would tell his team that competitors were bragging that they could “whip Yellow Springs,” even if they never said so. Newsome would keep grueling practices fun by running drills for slam dunks and alley-oops, according to one former player. At the beginning of one season, Rudegeair recalled when Newsome brought in a cover of Sports Illustrated emblazoned with Shaquille O’Neal and the phrase “Get Out of Our Way.” That became the team’s galvanizing motto for the season. Another season he darkened the locker room before each game to show a scene from the movie The Gladiator where the lead character revs up his comrades for battle.

Hotaling’s most vivid memory is when the 2004 team lost in the sectional semi-finals and Newsome didn’t get upset, but instead told his players not to hang their heads because he was proud of them. That moment stuck with Hotaling, and so does the memory of an extraordinary coach — and friend.

“Everyone who played for him knew there wasn’t a guy who loved the team more,” Hotaling said. “We never had any doubt his head was anywhere else except what was best for the team…Yellow Springs will not find a coach who is better or more passionate. There was no better fit for coaching Bulldogs basketball.”

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