Family matters for Sheyenne athletics
What better way for the Mustang family to get started than by hiring a husband and wife as coaches?
The Mustang Booster Club introduced new coaches Jeremy and Leah Newton - who will coach football and volleyball, respectively - to parents and fans earlier this month, along with new basketball coaches Tom Kirchoffner and Brent Hintz.
The Newtons - along with their children McKenzie, 11, and Zander, 9 - moved to the area from Las Lunas, N.M., willing to brave Red River Valley winters to be closer to Jeremy's family in Moorhead and Leah's in Starbuck, Minn., as well as people with the Midwest disposition.
"We have really been wanting to get back to our families and the area," Jeremy said. "The people are great in the Red River Valley. It shows how great the people in the area are when you know how bad the winters are and you still want to come back here."
The pair admitted to being each other's biggest fan and biggest critic.
"We're big fans of each other's sports," Jeremy said. "I love volleyball, and when I come home after a football game, she's the first one to get after me for plays that I called. It's a great relationship as far as backing each other up goes."
The two will most likely be coaching varsity teams in the fall of 2014, despite there being no seniors at Sheyenne High School until the fall of 2015. While starting a new program from scratch is a new and challenging experience for the two coaches, it is one they are looking forward to.
"It's exciting to be at something from the very first day," Leah said. "Not many people can say they were there at the beginning of a program."
"There are so many things that you take for granted that other schools already have, and we are starting from scratch," Jeremy said. "It will take some time, but we will do the best we can. It's a really unique situation."
Despite a lack of senior leadership in the varsity programs' first year, neither coach sees a lack of maturity being an issue for their respective teams.
"This year's sophomores have to realize that they are already leaders and keep that going," Jeremy said. "It's definitely an interesting situation, but I think kids can do more than anyone thinks they can."
"With them already in that leadership role this year, they'll grow so much throughout this experience," Leah added.
What excites the Newtons most about being a part the initial Mustang coaches is being able to lay the foundation for future athletes and coaches of Sheyenne High School, starting traditions that may last throughout the school's history.
"It's a big responsibility," Jeremy said. "The direction these programs go will be based on what these kids do and what we are able to teach them. We'll do our best to teach them to do things right and be good role models. It's a really big concern for both of us."
"We will set the tone and influence future Mustangs," Leah said. "We need to take that seriously. We have to do it right and start right now."