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PROFILE: Flowery Branch girls basketball coach Courtney Newton utilizes lessons learned as a player at South Carolina in molding current crop of players
Courtney Newton
Flowery Branch coach Courtney Newton watches her team against East Hall during a game Dec. 17, 2021 in Gainesville. Photo by Bill Murphy

Courtney Newton understands life is a process.

Many of those moments come with injuries and unexpected adversity.

Those words did not define her in college or as the girls’ basketball coach at Flowery Branch High. 

“Adversity is what you make of it,” Newton said. “If you go through adversity, it is easy to have others write what that ending will be.”

Newton suffered a third knee injury at the University of South Carolina during her playing career. The right ACL injury cut her junior season short.

This was the second time the right knee needed to be repaired since she suffered the same injury as a high school player at Flowery Branch.

Her left ACL injury took place as a Gamecocks player.

However, this third injury helped kick start the next step of her life in education.

As the daughter of a high school coach, Newton didn’t realize how much coaching was engrained in her until getting away from high school.

It was not until the injury as a junior in college that she embraced the possibility of being on the sideline, teaching the game she loved.

Newton, 33, was nurtured by Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley in seeing that side of the game.

This allowed Newton to build a different mindset and approach to the game.

She was able to hear the game, see the game, and listen to watch Staley’s perspective of things during the huddles.

“She made it so much more than basketball,” Newton said. “For me, that made the transition (easier). The way she taught life through basketball.”

Newton, a mother of two, has a passion for helping youth.

She is a counselor at Flowery Branch High and has always wanted to make a difference with the next generation.

There was a particular moment, as a player, that impacted Newton’s future.

During her redshirt season, South Carolina was preparing for a trip to Athens for a game against Georgia. Newton practiced the entire week, hoping to step on the floor in her home state.

It didn’t go the way she hoped.

Newton never stepped on the floor, other than for warmups.

She was frustrated.

After the game, she went into the stands looking for encouragement.

Newton was greeted by her father, Mike Newton, now a football coach at Lakeview Academy, with good advice and a fresh perspective.

He told Courtney that coach Staley didn’t see her during the flow of the game.

No matter what Newton thought she was doing, it was not enough to leave and impression on the Gamecocks coach.

“That conversation completely turned around my career with my dad,” she said. 

Newton took her father’s advice and made an impression.

She studied the scouting report, dove for loose balls, and became a vocal presence in practice.

Staley apologized to Newton for not playing her and said, ‘I forgot about you.’

“I understood that it is in my hand to make sure I am doing everything I can to get what I want, instead of putting it in someone else’s hands to give you that opportunity,” Newton said. “I started that season and started every game my senior season. It wasn’t because I was the best player. I did my part. If you want something, you have to do something different.”

Now, as a coach, Newton is making sure her players understand how to write their own story. Since taking over the Lady Falcons program in 2015, Newton has guided the Lady Falcons to four consecutive Lanierland championships (2015-19), plus region titles in 2016 and 2019.

Then three consecutive Final Four appearances from 2017-2019 and a Class 5A State runner-up finish in 2018. 

Her advice to players facing adversity is straightforward.

“Trust the process,” she said. “It is all the process. A lot of times, people don’t want to go through the process. If you go through that mentality, there is something you have to learn and do better. That’s the mentally I had to take.”

 

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