West Forsyth had a great deal of success over the past 16 years with Jeff Thompson and Nate Newsome as the respective head coaches for the boys and girls programs for cross country and track and field.
But after 30 years, Thompson, who was the boys coach, retired and plans to move to Maryland this summer. That presented a question to West Forsyth athletics: Should it hire a boys coach from the outside or stay within the program and promote Newsome to run the whole program?
The answer is Newsome, 47, a graduate of West Forsyth, who will run both programs, Athletics Director Mike Pennington said.
“We opened the job and we got a couple good applicants, but Nate’s been at West a long time,” Pennington said. “They basically ran the track program as one program anyway.
“Nate and Jeff Thompson worked very well together and we liked how the track programs were so cohesive and wanted to continue that, and Nate’s had a lot of success as the girls coach in cross country and indoor and outdoor track. So it definitely was the logical choice.”
Under Newsome last year, the girls cross country team finished second in the NCHSAA Class 4-A championships, fifth in indoor track and field and ninth in outdoor track and field.
“With coaching the girls for so long and Jeff and I kind of working so closely together I thought it would be best for continuity of the program, just kind of keep things running as they had been going,” Newsome said.
Thompson coached the boys to the NCHSAA Class 4-A outdoor championship in 2017. And last year he helped the Titans to an eighth-place finish in cross country, fourth in indoor track and second in outdoor track.
“The way that Jeff and I have coached I have found over these years that I guess we were able to have a unique situation,” Newsome said. “Some folks that have only had kind of had only one program director, which is I guess what I do now, or they’ll have a boys coach and a girls coach. Sometimes those teams aren’t very unified.”
Pennington said he and Principal Charles McAninch were only concerned as to whether it going to be overwhelming to run both the boys and girls programs.
“We just talked to Nate a couple times and we just had to make sure that he had a plan in place to handle the numbers,” Pennington said. “Our numbers are big in indoor track and cross country and outdoor track, all three sports. And so he came up with a good plan to handle the number of kids and we’ve got several assistants, going to have an addition of a couple more, which was important. The track and cross country coaching was never an issue.”
One other plus is that Newsome is on the faculty at West Forsyth as an art teacher.
“Just making the Xs and Os of coaching while you’re at the meet or making the workouts, there’s a whole lot more to coaching than that,” Newsome said. “And I think that’s where it helps to be on campus, and be around the kids and see the kids and the behind-the-scenes stuff, dealing with all the equipment, buses and paperwork that goes along with it.”
Newsome could retire in five years, but he doesn’t foresee that happening.
“Graduating from there and teaching there for so long, you know I’ve taught at enough places and done enough other stuff to realize it’s a pretty unique place,” he said. “It’s a good place to teach, it’s a great place to coach. I’ll do it as long as they’ll let me, as long as it’s fun and as long as I’m able to make it a successful program.”