Catching up with Brock Newsome

Published 12:35 am Tuesday, July 12, 2022

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By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier

The last name Newsome has become synonymous with track and cross country at West Forsyth.
Brock Newsome may be 21 years old and graduated from West Forsyth in 2019, but he and the rest of the Newsome family are certainly leaving their mark on the tradition of running at the school.
Newsome, who is running cross country and track and field at UNC Asheville, is the only son of Nathan Newsome, the head coach of the boys and girls cross country and indoor and outdoor track-and-field teams for the Titans. Nathan is an art teacher at West Forsyth, and Nathan’s wife and Brock’s mother, Amy, is an interior-design teacher there.
In addition, his older sister, Mackenzie, who is 24 years old, graduated in 2015 from West Forsyth and ran at Tusculum, and his second-youngest sister, Blair, who is 18, just graduated last month and also ran at West Forsyth. Blair received an arts-based scholarship to attend Wake Forest.
And this fall, rising ninth-grader, Hope, the youngest girl in the family, will be running for the school.
“It’s fully in the family,” Brock said. “And I think that, once I look back on it, it was every kid that ever came under my dad in the sport. And anybody that was around that track, I feel like they are part of the family.
“I see people that are 30 years old now, and I remember when they were in high school. My dad was their coach. So, I think he made it wonderful.”
Nathan Newsome was only coaching the girls teams until 2019, when longtime Coach Jeff Thompson retired as the boys coach, and Nathan took over both roles.

Lindsay Absher photo
The Newsome family, left to right: Mackenzie, Hope, Amy, Blair, Nathan, Brock

“At this time Jeff Thompson is still coaching, and Jeff is very mild-mannered,” Nathan said. “Jeff had known Brock his whole life, so I was Dad. Jeff was like second Dad. I think that once he became more acclimated and engrained in track and cross country — the term I use is he tolerated cross-country to get to track.
“As a parent you’ve got to figure out what type of parent you’re going to be, especially when you’re their coach. I just wasn’t going to be that overbearing, ‘You’re going to do it because I say you’re going to do it. It needs to be an intrinsic decision.”
Not only was Nathan Brock’s coach, he was also Brock’s art teacher for all four years at West Forsyth.
“In the classroom, he’s an awesome teacher,” Brock said. “I see him connect with everybody. He finds a way to connect to everybody whether it’s a kid that’s a jock, or it’s someone that’s struggling to find a friend group. Art is a good way to connect. He doesn’t look like an art teacher. He looks like a PE teacher.”
Brock was able to watch his father up close and personal, as well as from afar.
“And (as a) coach, he knows everything about everybody,” Brock said. “He knows everything they’ve ran, every course, every time, every PR (personal record), every practice they’ve missed. I mean, he knows everything, and he always has.”
And father definitely knows his son, as well as his likes and dislikes.
“He’s a real social kid,” Nathan said. “I think that is one of the things that you hope for. And I think that is one thing as a coach that Jeff and I, having your own children, you know what you want your culture of the team to be in a group. And my children, their teammates, in most instances, ended up being their friends and that was who their social group was.
“That’s who they did stuff with. So, it was a way to be able to hang out with his friends. And it just so happened that we’ve got to go run five miles, or whatever.”
That fits in just fine for a social butterfly.
“Cross country was great because I could talk to my buddies,” Brock said. “But track was much easier to stomach — four laps around a track rather than 3 1/2 miles. So, track is more fun to watch, by far, especially because you get to compete and then you get to watch people.”
In high school track, Brock ran the 4×400, 400, 800, 1600 and 3200. But after the spring season was over his senior year, he thought he was just going to become a student at UNC Charlotte that fall.
“I had decided I was not going to run,” he said. “I was just going to go to a bigger Division I school and just take the college career. And then I was at my last (NCHSAA) state meet my senior year, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I don’t want this to end yet. I feel like I’m just starting.’”
All of a sudden, Brock got a nibble from UNC Asheville to come run there and the rest is history.
“I remember my dad messaged a coach that somebody had asked me about a school, and I signed for athletics June 7 after I graduated,” Brock said. “I had a room, a roommate, a meal plan, everything, at a school (UNCC) and then just up and switched.”
Because of what he’s already accomplished as an athlete at UNC Asheville, Brock knows he could’ve competed at almost any college.
“I had gotten into some other schools, but I liked Charlotte,” he said. “I just really liked the school. And then I was like, ‘I don’t want to do athletics there.’ At the time I wasn’t necessarily good enough to do athletics there. Now, I would be candidly, one of their better distance runners.”
As a cross-country runner last season at UNCA, he competed in six races for the Bulldogs. At the Big South Championship, he finished in 41st place at 26:59.2, And in the Louisville Classic last October, he ran 26:58.3, and later ran for the Bulldogs in the NCAA Southeast Regional.
In track and field, Brock didn’t run during the 2019-20 season because of COVID. This past season in track, he competed in four events. Helping the 4×800 relay team finish second with a time of 7:46.86 at Montreat. At the Big South Championship, he finished 17th in the 1500 at 4:00.91 and 17th at 10:25.90 in the 3000-meter steeplechase.
“I look more forward to track because it’s a bigger cutdown,” Brock said. “It’s something I’m a big fan of.”
Although Nathan and Amy Newsome have their own busy lives, they’ve still carved up enough time to be able to see their son run.
“He’s improved each year as I think he’s learned how to do the training, and what’s required, and how to be uncomfortable for a really long time,” Nathan said. “And even if you are going to be an 800-meter runner, 1500-meter runner, you’ve still got to do 15-mile-long runs, you’ve still got to do the long-tempo runs. You can just get by on natural speed but for so long.”
With several years of eligibility left, Brock still has time to get even better at his craft.
“You hope there’s not a plateau coming,” he said. “The sport is long in diminishing returns. And sometimes you hope that you get older and stronger, if you do the same work that it will theoretically give you a better result because you’re stronger and bigger.
“And sometimes I think, ‘How much harder can I work? How much better can I get?’ I don’t know. I didn’t think that every mark I hit this year as a personal best was something that I dreamed of.”
No matter what he accomplishes in his time left as a runner at UNC Asheville, he still has bigger aspirations after school. And he’s no slouch in the classroom either, majoring in chemistry.
“One thing he wants do is be a stand-up comedian,” Nathan said. “Like serious as a heart attack. Like Jerry Seinfeld. I’m like any parent in that would mortify me. My first thing was, ‘That’s a hard route to go. You’ve got a better chance of getting into medical school than you have being a stand-up comedian.’”
So that well-rounded college student, an NCAA Division I athlete, a lover of art and pottery, is debating on whether to be a stand-up comedian, a doctor or even a coach like his dad.
“I’m hoping to do medical school, but I’m still not a 100% sure what I want to do by any means,” Brock said. “…I try to do a good balance. But I don’t want 100% in one avenue. I want a good percentage of a lot, like personal relationships with people and stuff, and having fun, and exploring hobbies and doing all that stuff.
“So, I think that may keep me from being hyper-focused and knowing exactly what I want do career-wise, but I think it makes my life better as a whole.”