Friday, May 21, 2010

Joe Newton and the Long Green Line

I just finished watching The Long Green Line, a documentary featuring Joe Newton, the most successful high school cross country coach ever. In 50 years of coaching at York High School in Elmhurst IL, Newton's teams have won an unprecidented 26 state titles.

I recommend Long Green Line to every high school coach in the country- you can see immediately that Newton figured it out a long time ago- from having his runners do the recruiting to the way he treats his athletes from number 1 to number 100- what an amazing tradition!

Back in the 70's when I was running for UW-Stevens Point, we knew all about York high school- Gil Halverson, one of my teammates, was a Vietnam vet, and also ran for Newton (I never did ask Gil which was harder). The reputation was "York runs so hard they burn out by the time college rolls around". There have been plenty of York kids that have gone on to respectable college careers, but I am a little surprised they haven't produced more athletes that have gone on to professional running careers.

Checking out the York High School website, I am also somewhat surprised that a boys cross country team with 26 state titles and a documentary does not have a link to their own page (maybe Joe hasn't figured out that darn internet yet- or better yet doesn't care!)

In Long Green Line, Newton reminded me of Joe Paterno, head football coach for Penn State for what seems like the last 117 years (ok- it's only 41). Watching Newton lead warm-ups reminded me of some vintage 50's Jack LaLanne exercises, and I couldn't help but wonder what those capable assistant coaches must be thinking.

None of that matters- especially when you are a coaching legend such as Joe Newton. All he does is produce winners, guys that will run through a brick wall for their coach, year after year, for the last 50 years.

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