Former players usually have a hard time stepping away from the game they’ve played non-stop for years, and if they do, it is not for very long. Coaching is the route many use to try to find their way back to a sport.
For former South Carolina player Courtney Newton, success has come early in her first year as a coach at Lexington High.
“I’ve got a great group of girls, and I told them it was going to be a process,” Newton said. “I preach to them to just buy into the process, and it’s what they’ve done. They’ve had to learn philosophies and defense that I teach, and I’ve had to learn about them. I’m proud of their commitment and work ethic.”
Newton, from Flowery Branch, Ga., said she wasn’t sure what kind of team she had to start the year, because she was unfamiliar with the basketball culture around the Midlands.
“I knew that first night that we put a team on the floor that I had a good group of girls. It’s been amazing to see them from Day 1 to now, and its been a highlight to me to see how they’ve tasted success, and they can see the reward for their hard work.”
So far this season, the Wildcats have beaten the likes of preseason No. 7 Columbia and preseason No. 10 Aiken two times each, and have an 11-5 (1-2 Region 5-4A) record.
“They’ve been getting a lot of attention, and they want to know why people care about their games,” Newton said. “I tell them, ‘It’s because you’re winning!’ ”
Newton, also a counselor at Lexington, is no stranger to success as she played under Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley. She finished her career with a share of the school record for 3-point field goal percentage and was a part of the Sweet-16 run in 2012.
“Coach (Staley) is defensive minded, and that was something that I carried over here,” Newton said. “If she walked in our gym, I would hope she could recognize that defense we play.
“I’m not her, though … and I definitely don’t wear the heels (when coaching) like she does,” Newton said with a laugh.
She brings the same passion that Staley uses and tries to have a relationship with her players and be a player’s coach, like the USC coach. Newton has taken things she likes and things she doesn’t like from her former coach.
Newton had no coaching experience, but she has made a tremendous impact on her team, thanks to coaching influences such as Staley and her father, who is a coach.
“I love playing for her,” junior forward Taylor Foulks said. “She pushes us to our point and she knows that we all have potential. She’s a great balance of yelling and being laid back.”
Destinee Langford, also a junior, has welcomed the first-year coach.
“She brings a lot of energy to the team,” Langford said “All of her plays are really good, and the plays she made were made to fit the team.”
As the Wildcats head into the second half of the season, Newton and her players have a common goal – to get better.
Lexington plays host to South Aiken on Friday at 6 p.m.
Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/2015/01/22/3943823_former-gamecock-courtney-newton.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy