Going the extra mile

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 27, 2023

Senior Owen Newsome a steady presence for track, cross country teams at West Forsyth

By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier

It’s hard enough to go through the grind of being a top-notch cross-country and track-and-field athlete in high school.

But for senior Owen Newsome of West Forsyth, being a runner for the Titans is like a Sunday stroll compared to what he’s overcome.

Newsome, the nephew of Coach Nathan Newsome of the track-and-field team at West Forsyth, was adopted by Nathan’s brother, Jacob, and Jacob’s wife, Bobbi, from China, when according to Owen, he was 6.

“I think I’ve always known I was adopted,” Owen said. “I came to America. I was old enough to know. My parents were being honest about things and told me about my life in China.”

It goes even deeper than that for Owen.

“Actually, I never knew my biological parents,” he said. “The story behind it was that I was originally dropped off at a police station. Then, I was transferred to a fire station. So, then they gave me to an adoption agency. After that, I went through foster care for a while. And then once I was adopted, I was moved back to the orphanage.”

Nathan Newsome was able to recount being supportive of his brother and sister-in-law as they went through the process.

“I thought it was fantastic from the absolute get-go,” Nathan said. “I think it’s like hitting the lottery. That adoption process, of course, is a unique and a wonderful thing from top to bottom.”

Thankfully, for Owen, his memory is short on what exactly happened.

“All that process and me being in China, I don’t remember at all,” he said.

In fact, he has two younger sisters, who are not his biological 17-year-old sisters, Maddie and Lillie, who were also adopted from China.

“We are all from three different families,” said Owen, who is 19.

Jacob, who is a retail branch manager at Piedmont Federal, and Bobbi Newsome, who is the assistant coordinator at the Clemmons United Methodist Preschool, also have a biological 32-year-old son, Dillon.

“They had Dillon, so they thought about adoption,” Owen said. “They got my sister Maddie first, who is the youngest, and then they got my sister Lillie.

“And I think they ended up adopting all three of us within four years. So, it was pretty quick.”

There was also the language barrier.

“Jake said when they got (Owen), he spoke Mandarin Chinese only. That was it,” Nathan Newsome said. “And from the minute they met, you know, it was obvious that Owen was a unique, special person.

“If you ever meet him in person, and I’m not saying this because he’s my nephew…There’s not a finer human being. He is as kind as you can possibly be. He’s thoughtful, he’s hard-working, and this is a good segue into what we’re doing.”

Owen still gets emotional recounting how the Newsomes found him.

“Both of my parent went through both of my sisters adoptions,” he said. “My dad told me he was looking at the adoption agency and looking at the kids.

“I will always remember this, he said he was looking at the kids, and he was just on his own. And he said he saw this one kid down there and that one kid was me. And he said, ‘that’s my son.’ And he ended up going to my mom and said this is our son. We need to go back and get him.”

Asked if he had a face that attracted the Newsomes to adopt him, he said, “I sure hope so.”

Owen is one of the oldest students at West Forsyth.

“I remember going to school in China,” he said. “I did not know English. It wasn’t until I came to America that I learned English. My mom, who is a pre-school teacher, she helped me with English. And then my amazing first-grade teacher, Mr. Best, he helped me.

“I’m actually one of the oldest in the senior class. Coming in from China and not knowing any language, first of all, starting school so late and being the oldest kid in class was a weird adjustment, I’d say.”

Fast-forward to when Owen was at Clemmons Middle School, his uncle saw something in him as an athlete.

“As he developed and got into doing some sports, I was like, ‘Man, he’s fast,'” Nathan said. “I knew because he was so diligent and so hard-working, I said, ‘If he’s kind of fast and will work hard he’ll be a very good distance runner.”

As he’s grown and developed as a cross country and track runner, he knew that he was part of a prominent running family. Nathan’s four children, including his daughter, who is a freshman at West Forsyth, are all runners.

“I started running in middle school. I had originally played soccer,” Owen said. “And so after a while my uncle asked, ‘Would you be interested in running?’

“That’s basically how I started. And I started running in middle-school then got to know some of the top guys from West my freshman year and that’s what really built up to this point of me running.”

Nathan admittedly doesn’t want to show favoritism toward Owen.

“I couldn’t be more appreciative,” Nathan said. “I’ve had my own kids come through and it’s been a very similar situation. The same way you don’t want to show any partiality to you own children, I’ve tried to do the same with him. People don’t readily know that’s my nephew, of course, but I take a little extra pride when he does well.”

In addition to running cross country, which he prefers, Owen ran indoor track this past winter, and now, he’s competing in outdoor track in mostly the 1,600, 3,200, and the 4×400-relay and 4×800-meter relay.

“He’s unique in that he can do anything,” Nathan Newsome said. “He could probably run on our 4×200 relay, too. He’s that fast. So, anything from 200 to 3,200.”

That said, Owen’s career at West Forsyth is coming to an end. The Central Piedmont 4-A meet is coming up, followed by the regional on May 13 at Davie County, and the NCHSAA Class 4-A meet on May 19-20 at N.C. A&T in Greensboro.

“Have fun,” Owen said of the rest of the season. “Enjoy what is left because the end is coming pretty quick.”

After graduation, Owen will be attending honors college at East Carolina to go through the nursing program there.

“He’s the kind of guy that will probably end up running marathons down the road,” Nathan Newsome said. “He has that mindset; I think he can probably do whatever he puts his mind to.”