The other day, Chino Valley High School graduate Joshua Newman looked at his yearbook – it said he was going to be a basketball coach.
He’s currently the head men’s basketball coach at University of Arkansas-Fort Smith where he’s been for 12 seasons, leading the team to more than 200 wins. He was also named All-Heartlands Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year for the 2013-2014 season.
It was in eighth grade when he knew he wanted to be a basketball coach, Newman said. Calling his high school coach, Rod Torgerson, the most influential man in his life other than his father, he said he learned a lot from his time in Chino Valley and has been very fortunate along the way to be a part of successful programs and fortunate to run his own program.
“I’ve been pretty driven my whole life,” Newman said. “The people that have known me and people that I grew up with knew that I wanted to be a basketball coach. I was very fortunate to pursue that dream and I’m still living that dream today.”
His first job was as an assistant coach at what is now UAFS for $12,500 annually, he said. After that he coached at McClennan Community College for two years where he started to build his network followed by being the highest paid junior college assistant in the entire state of Texas at South Plains College, Newman.
There, the team had a record of 61-9, won back-to-back conference championships, back-to-back regional championships and two back-to-back trips to the national tournament, he said.
That was followed by three years at the University of Nevada that saw three Western Athletic Conference championships and three straight NCAA tournaments, Newman said. Then it was back to what is now UAFS, where the team went number two in the country in his second and third year, he said. Then the program transitioned into a four-year program, an opportunity to do something he never thought he would, Newman said.
“A lot of coaches don’t get the opportunity to literally rebuild a program … I actually had to take a program from a two-year program to a four-year program and I think there’s only 200 schools in the entire country that had done that,” he said. “In our second year as a four-year program, we won our first conference championship. Since then, we’ve won three more and we’ve bene to three NCAA tournaments in the last four years. We’ve actually been the preseason favorite to win our league seven straight years.”
In 2015, Newman was inducted into the Chino Valley High School Athletics Hall of Fame as part of the 1990-91 and 1991-92 soccer teams and was inducted into the University of Nevada Athletics Hall of Fame as part of the 2003-04 coaching staff. It’s been a pretty good run, Newman said.
The goal has always been to win a national championship but he’s also trying to build better young men, he said. Coaching has given him an opportunity to make a difference, Newman said.
“That was the one thing that I felt I could make a difference in our society,” he said. “I feel like maybe this would be the best avenue for me is to really help young men become more successful at life. We talk to our guys all the time about being future fathers, future husbands, future employees, future employers. For me, that’s kid of what it’s about.”
He’s never forgotten where he came from either as he always talks to players and people about where he grew up, Newman said. Chino Valley was a good experience for him, great for his family and he learned a tremendous amount, he said.
“Because of what I learned there and about the people that I surrounded myself with as early as my junior high days and high school days, it’s really helped me formulate the person I am today,” Newman said.