Tony's Take: A Celebration Of Life With Coach Joe Newton

There is one sentiment from my mother that has always resonated with me. "Give me my roses while I'm living," she proclaimed. "I will not be able to smell or touch them when I'm gone." It took me several years to really understand what she meant. I came to the conclusion that it's very important to honor those that are important to you while they are living. Since being a proud part of the running community I know the respect that many of us current coaches have for our elders. Mr. Joe Newton was one of those coaches. In respect to him I will call him Coach Newton. He always insisted that I called him "Coach" instead of "Mr." whenever he greeted or chatted. He called me "Tone" and he always asked how my team was doing whenever we spoke. There is no doubt that Coach Newton was one of the most genuine guys that I've known. Growing up I had an incredible relationship with my grandfather and I am pleased to say that Coach Newton fitted that bill.

Two of my first coaching mentors were Larry James of Chesterton IN and Charles McClinton of Lane Tech.  I knew Coach James since I was in junior high school. What I obtained from him was the art of business first. Coach your team first and tend to your friends of the sport when you completed your tasks. Coach McClinton was a long time teacher and coach at Lane Tech High School in Chicago. He was as honest as they came. I learned the ethical side of the running game from him. Whether or not you can assist and develop an athlete, always be honest with them.

Coach Newton had the combination of James and McClinton and was another coaching mentor that I adopted. I am convinced that he had the respect of everyone that he came in contact with. Even those who despised him. I overheard coaches talk behind Coach Newton's back and then be the first one in line at his speaking engagements. And then there would be that coach who went 0-forever against him, but still had the same respect as if they had never lost to him. Coach Newton somehow seem to know all of this and treated everyone that he came across with the same amount of respect. Read his book "Coaching Cross Country Successfully." He laid out virtually all of the training secrets of his coaching success and dared you to implement it to beat him in a non boastful way.

I think what I am going to miss most about Coach Newton is his natural ability to tell stories during a light moment, and then on another hand raise his voice during a race at his troops assuring them he was there. For that alone there will never be another Joe Newton.