Archive for Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Longtime Cougars coach still enjoys his role

September 27, 2006

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Coach Chuck Newman has volunteered thousands of hours over the past 40 years coaching the Lawrence Cougars youth football team.

In that time he has seen a few things.

He has seen championships and defeats.

He has seen players come and go and seen some of them go on to play college football. He has coached his own children and now his grandchildren and watched his players turn into coaches themselves.

Newman has spent more than 5,000 hours volunteering his time to coach Lawrence youth. Those many hours translate into almost 600 games and with no fewer than 35 winning seasons to show for it.

Christian Adair played for Newman almost 25 years ago when he was in the second through sixth grades. Adair said Newman had a positive impact on many of the Cougars players who came from disadvantaged communities.

"He volunteered all this time to a lot of kids that had problems at home and he stayed patient and was here for all of us," Adair said. "He was like a father figure. He had that extra influence on us."

Newman began coaching by chance after watching a friend of his coach football.

"My friend said you might as well come out and coach then," Newman said. "And I just went and jumped right in."

That chance experience has stretched on for years. Today, Newman is 72 years old and shows no signs of stopping. He still coaches the Cougars in games on Sundays and helps them along in practices during the week.

"It keeps me young," Newman said. "Chasing my kids and having a good time. It's been a good ride. I don't plan on quitting. I'll still be out there."

Newman is proud to say that he can still outrun many of his players. Outside of coaching football he competes in track and field events. He has gone to nationals a few times.

Adair said Newman's love of track rubbed off on him when he was a Cougar.

During Adair's time as a player, Newman used to challenge the players to a race at the end of practices.

Newman offered a bottle of Gatorade or juice to the winner of the race to motivate the kids to get into shape. Even then Newman was in his 50s and still beat most of the players. But one day Adair broke through to win the race. He said Newman inspired him to go on to participate in track in college.

Newman's impact on the kids and love of coaching has become sort of a legacy for him. Gordon Scott, a coach who Newman worked under recently passed away. Just before he died Scott challenged Newman to keep coaching and never let the Cougars go.

Newman has been trying his hardest to fulfill his promise. He still hits the field and has even passed on the coaching torch to his oldest son Derek, who helps him out as a coach of the Cougars "A" team.

"As long as I am walking and talking I'll still be coaching," Newman said.

Newman takes a simple yet important approach to coaching his players in the game and in life. His message is simple: to do the best you can.

"We kind of preach to them everyday about taking care of things at home and school and if they go to church too," Newman said. "We tell them just to hang in there and do it like its supposed to be done and stay out of trouble."

Adair said that through it all, Newman has done his work and influenced players without much fuss or attention. Throughout all of those hours, Newman has impacted the lives of his players in many ways. For Newman the reward comes in seeing his players succeed.

Newman said many of his old players, like Adair, were surprised he was still coaching decades after he coached them.

"I came back recently and he was still doing it," Adair said. "He is still there doing the same things he did for us."

If Newman has his way, he will still be around for many more Cougars games and practices to come.

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