Below is a link to an article written by an inspired young man. The article can be found at www.letsrun.com, where I visit still.
I had the distinct pleasure and privelege to meet and be an ad-lib coach with Mr. Newton, at the Illinois State High School Cross-Country meet at Detweiller Park in November of 1994. I was there to watch the meet, just like every other adult. I ran into a friend who worked at Scott Air Force Base. He was a former standout runner from O'Fallon, IL, in the 1970's just after Craig Virgin was "king" of distance running. My friend, Tim, told me to walk with him. About 40 yards away, in the middle of the big field, was Mr. Newton, whom Tim knew for many years. Tim introduced me to Mr. Newton, who had other coaches and people hanging around him. Just then the bull horn message said we were to clear the field.
So, Mr. Newton told me to walk with him and talk with him. We headed to the Northwest corner of the grass field, down by the first sweeping corner where the runners merge. We talked and watched the runners take off from the starting line. I was about to leave and let him do his coaching, thinking I would interfere with his business, and he told me to do him a favor: "Help me out!" he said.
For the next hour and half I was by Mr. Newton's side. I helped him keep track of where his runners were positioned in the race (we stayed in just the one spot, just above that Northwest corner of the first curve) for the whole race. I called out his runner's 1-mile splits, which ranged from 4:48 to 4:51 and he was pleased. (His boys were rated 5th that season, and they were very young - mostly freshman and sophomores). As the minutes passsed his boys moved up more and more, and the last quarter mile showed just how much his boys were willing to fight for victory. I saw two boys fall to the ground, going up the hill, so tired they could barely move, but they got up and kept running to the finish.
"That was a great race," said Mr. Newton, and I thought he'd by taken up by commitments to his team and parents, faculty, and friends. But, he grabbed me by the upper arm and said, "stick by my side." It was very odd and interesting at the same time. I felt as if God and have given me a chance to be around the greatest teacher, coach, and mentor of all-time. So, I walked with Mr. Newton to the picnic table by the tree. And he asked me to find the trainer, whom he mentioned by name. I asked around and found the trainer. I told Mr. Newton where the trainer was located. Mr. Newton went over to the trainer's area and positition himself on the table face down (a massage table, I think). Mr. Newton winced as the trainer worked on Mr. Newton's back, which was hurting a lot. After a few minutes Mr. Newton turned his head my way and asked to find out how many points Schaumburg scored. I ran over to the Schaumburg camp and blended in. I found out there score and ran back at a fast clip to Mr. Newton. He sent me on several more trips to find out how other teams did (I recall Downer's Grove and Wheaton and somebody else).
When I found out the scores, I told Mr. Newton that York had probably won. He grabbed my arm and again and told me to help him up (to the picnic table top). I helped him climb to the top, and then he reached out his hand and helped me to the top. We both stood there. Then Mr. Newton instructed a couple of his runners climb to the table top (one was a captian, whom Mr. Newton mentioned by name...and the crowd cheered). Then, Mr. Newton said that I had helped him find out that York was probably the winner. I didn't know what to do, say, or think, but I just yelled loudly, in delight, along with hundreds of other people.
I don't remember much after that, although I did shake the hand of the school's principal and the town mayor. For that time-frame, one cool Saturday morning in November, I felt like York Duke. I felt part of something very big. There was a true sense of community and togetherness within that crowd and on that team. There was a leader, a legend, and a man whom I admired. He was full of energy, full of fire, and it was contagious.
I look back at that moment, from time to time, and think about how priveleged I was to be part of that scene and to be a "helper" for Mr. Newton. It is no wonder that his teams had won so much, so often. It is true, also, that most of those runners became much better human beings because of one single man's mission of striving for excellence every day. Mr. Netwon was my hero, and to this day he motivates and inspires me to be a better human being, coach, and friend.
Tom (Tinman) Schwartz
Ad blocker detected: Our website is made possible by displaying online advertisements to our visitors. Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker on our website.
A place for participants to post topics about anything including topics not related to running.
2 posts • Page 1 of 1