Gary Newsome took over the reins of the ONU Athletic Department in 2008 after serving the previous nine years as the Tigers’ head football coach. The 2015-2016 year proved to be the most successful in the 50 year history of Tiger Athletics, on the field and in the classroom. Highlighting the year was men’s swimming and diving who captured the University’s first NAIA National Championship, leading the Tigers to a fourth place finish in the NAIA Learfield Directors’ Cup standings, the highest in program history.
In all, 16 of the 20 varsity sports appeared in the NAIA postseason, including seven of eight in the spring. In total, 11 new individual NAIA National Champion banners were earned and two relay and 51 athletes and 12 relays earned NAIA All-American honors. Olivet captured their seventh CCAC All-Sports Cup title, as the Tigers produced no less than a share of six CCAC regular-season titles, while placing second in another five sports. They also earned three conference tournament championships.
In the classroom, the Tigers were a perfect 20-for-20 in NAIA Scholar Teams, leading the nation. The 652 varsity athletes combined for an impressive department GPA of 3.24. In total, 105 athletes earned NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors, while 173 were named CCAC/MSFA All-Academic. Seven student athletes earned CoSIDA Academic All-American honors, including Jake Anderson who was name the CoSIDA At-Large College Division Academic All-American of the Year.
During the 2014-15 school year, Olivet captured six CCAC regular season titles, three tournament titles and both track and field championships. In total, 12 Tiger teams made NAIA National Tournament appearances, including a runner-up finish by men’s swim and a third place finish by men’s cross country. Under Newsome’s leadership, Olivet had five NAIA individual National Champions and one relay team, 71 NAIA All-Americans, five NAIA National Players of the Week/Month and 69 NAIA Scholar Athletes. The Tigers also had 131 athletes earn CCAC/MFSA All-Conference honors, 172 named CCAC/MFSA All-Academic and three different coaches earn Coach of the Year honors, one earning two honors for both men’s and women’s track and field. Coach Newsome was also selected by his peers at the CCAC Athletic Director of the Year. He was also later selected as the NAIA Athletic Director of the Year.
In 2014, Newsome was elected as the Mid-States Football Association Commissioner. He was also appointed by committee to the NAIA National Administrative Council and will serve on the committee for Awards and Statistics. He was also appointed to the first ever NAIA Athletic Directors Association Board of Directors.
During his nine years as the Tigers’ head coach he was named MSFA Coach of the Year twice, guided his team to the NAIA playoffs, won a league championship as well as two NCCAA Victory Bowl championships. Newsome won 46 football games while at Olivet, 15 more than any coach in Olivet history. During his tenure as head football coach, his teams finished second in the MSFA on two occasions.
Newsome brings a wealth of administrative experience to the Olivet Department of Athletics. During his 25 years of service in the Ohio public school system he served 14 years as a public school administrator. He has held the positions of elementary principal as well as high school principal. Newsome has served as a high school athletic director at Paint Valley High School and Chillicothe High School, both in southern Ohio.
His stellar high school football coaching career includes a total of 110 victories, two undefeated teams, four Ohio High School playoff teams, eight Coach of the Year honors, and an opportunity to coach in the Ohio North South All Star game on two occasions. He was also inducted into the Paint Valley High School Hall of Fame. Other than football, Newsome has also coached basketball (both men’s and women’s), baseball, wrestling, swimming, tennis and track.
Newsome graduated from Olivet in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in education and earned his master’s degree from Chicago State University in 1982. He earned his high school and elementary school administrative certificates with additional course work at Miami University, University of Dayton and Xavier University. He has served as an adjunct professor within Olivet’s School of Graduate and Continuing Studies.
While studying at Olivet, Newsome participated in both basketball and baseball. He was a four-year starter in baseball and was the team’s MVP his senior year and the team’s leading hitter his junior year.
Newsome came home to ONU to become the head baseball coach and to serve as the football team’s defensive coordinator during the 1980 and 1981 school years. Newsome’s 1981 team won a then-school record 21 baseball games and earned a trip to the NAIA District 20 playoffs. For his team’s accomplishments on the field, he was named the NAIA District 20 Coach of the Year.
Coach Newsome’s Olivet ties continue with his family. His wife, Victoria, is a 1974 Olivet graduate and works in the University’s Office of Admission, handling transfer admissions. Their youngest daughter, Marie, earned two degrees at ONU, a bachelor’s degree in 2004 and a master’s degree in 2006. Marie is an administrator with the George Washington Elementary School in Cook County. Their oldest daughter, Jillian, a 2000 Olivet grad and a four-year cheerleader for the Tigers, is working as a nurse at Riverside Memorial Hospital in Kankakee. Their son, Christian, is a graduate of Liberty University, where he was the starting quarterback for the Flames football team and is senior pastor of Journey Church International in Lee's Summit, Missouri. Newsome’s son-in-law, Shannon Swilley, serves as the Assistant Principal and Athletic Director at the Bourbonnais Upper Grades Center.
Newsome also cherishes time with his six grandchildren: Christian, Isaiah, Kasey, Micah, Leah and Kwesi.
The purple and gold run deep with the Newsome’s, so it is no surprise that coach Newsome wants nothing less than the best for the ONU athletic program and the University.
“I would like our program to compete for the NAIA Director’s Cup and be one of the best NAIA programs in the country. I am challenged to prepare our coaching staff and to give them the means to become a champion both on and off the field of play,” he says.
“I want to be, and I want our coaching staff to be, outstanding Christian role models for our players. Our players need to see from our coaching staff how to win as well as how to lose as a follower of Christ, how to care for one another and how to respect our foes. I want our coaching staff and our athletes to truly believe in ‘Education with a Christian Purpose’ and take hold of our athletic department motto and win championships while developing champions. Above all, I want our athletes to see Christ in everything we do.”