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By Max Terrell

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Boys Basketball at Newcastle will see a shift in leadership with the hiring of new head coach Kevin Johnson, who looks to not only bring success to the athletes but also develop a new attitude for Racer Basketball.

Johnson started his coaching career at Haskell in Lawrence, Kan. as a graduate assistant after playing his college basketball there. Johnson also coached in Colorado as an assistant and spent some time in Ketchikan, Alaska as a head coach where he developed the future NBA player Damen Bell-Holter and took his team to two state championship games. 

After several other coaching jobs, Johnson landed a job at a major 5A school in Lebanon, Oregon where he helped improve the program.

Now after 20 years of coaching experience, Johnson feels at home back in Oklahoma coaching with attitude and creating a physical mindset for Racers basketball.

"I'm pretty straight forward," said Johnson. "I tell everyone; at 5'10 and a 180 pounds, there are a whole bunch of guys out there like that; so to win, you better have some sort of edge about you as a competitor that can separate you [from other players]. That's how I’ve always coached. I love my job and I love teaching kids."

Bringing a new attitude and developing the young Racers is exactly what Johnson is looking to do in his time here. He wants to develop, mature and see the athletes excel beyond what they are expected to do, he said. 

One of the biggest changes that may come from the coaching change is the way the program will work to develop the youngest players in Newcastle up to the high school athletes.

Everywhere he has coached, the program has been cultivated to teach the same basketball system from second grade, up to the high school. The new coach has already begun to talk to the Newcastle All Sports Association to bring them on board with his program to help develop the younger athletes.

Johnson is a systematic coach and believes that the younger they can get the students adjusted to the new system the more it will benefit the entire Newcastle basketball program, he said. There will also be a new focus on the transition game with the players running up and down the court and dictating the pace of the games while still putting players in the best spots to succeed. 

Johnson feels that the players have adapted well to the transition of a new coach and a whole new system during the summer, but there have been some challenges along the way.

"I think the transition has been fairly smooth," Johnson said. "I wish it would have happened a little sooner, so we could have gotten some more coaches established and got some more things for our younger kids.  

Our Freshman up have played quite a few games this summer and got some practice times in. But coming in later and not having a staff in place hurt me a little bit because I couldn’t get my seventh or sixth graders coming in."

The emphasis will be on defense with coach Johnson and will change from more zone on the court to a more man to man defense, he said. This will keep them accountable and all eleven players are expected to be responsible for their roles on the rotation. 

Johnson has an aggressive defensive mind; planning to play full court basketball and trapping constantly.

"We’re going to play full court as much as we can with the teams we can," Johnson said. "We’re going to do a lot of trapping and do a lot of jumping. We are not going to let other teams dictate the tempo on offense, and the minute that we do, someone else will be coming into the game." 

He looks for the team to not rely on one or two people but to play team basketball and get everyone involved to one day reach their goal and have the mindset of a playoff team,

"The goal is to get to the state championship, and if that’s not the goal, then we are in the wrong place," said Johnson.

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By Max Terrell 

After training hard  and competing in a regional camp in Dallas to make the cut, the Racers headed down to Indianapolis for the NFL's High School Player Development  7-on-7 Tournament.

The tournament pitted 32 teams from across the country against one another to see who was the best of the best. The teams selected represented the 32 NFL teams, with the Racers being selected to represent the Dallas Cowboys.

Newcastle took 11 players with them which include: Zach Bergt, Parker Bolles, Brady Davis, Casey Freeman, Gavin Garner, C.J. Hill, Isaac Johnson, Shane Martin, Ben Persall, Kyle Rice and Britt West. 

The Racers ended the tournament with a 4-5 record for the event. This finish comes after playing teams like Booker T. Washington who were the national high school champions last year and won this years 7-on-7 tournament. Newcastle was also one of the few teams that were all from the same school. Most of the 32 teams were hand picked from a variety of different schools and placed onto their respective NFL teams. 

The Racers won their first round in the playoffs during the tournament and made it all the way to their divisional championship where they lost to the Washington Redskins affiliated team, which had hand picked from 640 different players from the Washington area.

Newcastle Racer head football coach Keith Bolles feels that playing this level of competition has improved the players. 

"I thought, seeing the competition our kids got to see is only going to make us better for the upcoming season," Bolles said. "We saw some really good athletes. I know that obviously there are some things we need to work on and get better. I saw improvement each day we were there, and each game we played, we learned a little more. As a coach that is all you can ask for."

Of the 11 athletes brought to the tournament to compete, all eleven players improved and played well, Bolles said. 

The quarterback, Casey Freeman, and his receivers made great throws and catches all camp and it was hard to single single anyone player out during the tournament, Bolles said. In a 7-on-7 game they have to work as a group and a team.

The tournament had fierce competition and worked towards improving the athletes on the field but also to work with the athletes off the field. 

The competition has a structured focus having strict schedules and making sure the athletes were busy, he said. One of the requirements that the tournament set was that the players had to attend character development meetings. 

These meetings were conducted by former NFL players and talked about issues that many young athletes have to deal with such as maintaining high standards of character. There were also sessions about social media, which is an immediate issue students deal with daily. 

"I thought one of the most unique things [about the character development during] the second night we were there right after dinner, and they had what they called a breakout session," Bolles said. "There were 16 different rooms with two teams to each room. Each team had an NFL player and the one that stuck out to me was the session about social media and how when you post something there are repercussions later on. I think that really struck a chord with our kids."

Other ex-NFL players talked to the athletes about their mistakes such as gun problems, drugs, and the dangers of not managing one's money.

Some of the Racers themselves had positive comments to make in front of the other 500 people attending the tournament and asked questions to the ex players and were very involved, Bolles said.

Thursday, 17 July 2014 15:21

Racers head to NFL tournament

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By Max Terrell

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The Newcastle Racer football team has played its way into the NFL  High School Player Development (HSPD) 7-on-7 tournament.

The national tournament has been held for the last seven years and has evolved since the first tournament in 2007. 

The tournament places 32 teams from different regions of the country in competition against one another with each team representing one of the 32 NFL teams. This year Newcastle will be representing the Dallas Cowboys. 

To qualify for the tournament, the team had to make its way down to Dallas and compete against a variety of other teams for the chance to represent the Cowboys. Each team in the 7-on-7 tournament can consist of 12 players and two coaches with seven players on the field. 

Representing the Racers are: Zach Bergt, Parker Bolles, Brady Davis, Casey Freeman, Gavin Garner, C.J. Hill, Isaac Johnson, Shane Martin, Ben Persall, Kyle Rice, Britt West.

The tournament looks to help improve the skill set of the football players involved, and while it is a tournament format it is also a camp instead of just a tournament, Racer Head Coach Keith Bolles said.

This particular camp is not just about football. According to the NFL's official website, while the Racers will have the chance to compete against some of the best athletes in the country, the students will also be required to attend character development training. These training sessions will involve speakers, breakout sessions, and group activities in hopes of teaching the athletes from around the country about character and structure. 

"I love the character development,"  Bolles said. "They will get to hear a lot of stories from different guys. If all 12 guys going to the camp take those lessons in then it will spread through the entire program."

Before heading to the 7-on-7 camp, the Racers spent a weekend at the football camp at Oklahoma Baptist University to focus on improving for the upcoming football season, Bolles said. 

While the Racers and the coaches are keeping focused on the upcoming season that sees the Racers moving up to 4A competition, the athletes and the coaches are excited for the chance to play in the NFL and National Guard sponsored tournament. 

"That's a great opportunity for them," Bolles said. "They competed hard to get in and are looking forward to the trip."

Be sure to pick up next week's Pacer for a follow-up.

 

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Written by Max Terrell and posted to the website by Ryan Croft.

 

Q: How did you first get into buying Anytime Fitness gyms?

Well, I started buying under-performing clubs and started to turn the gyms around. There are two awards that the Anytime franchises give out each year. One is the Turn Around Club of The Year for the most improved club, which we have one.

Q: When did you purchase your first Anytime Fitness?

A: I purchased my first Anytime Fitness a little over four years ago. Now we have 14 different locations.

Q: Why did you decide to buy the Anytime Fitness in Newcastle?

A: Newcastle has a great demographic and it’s a great town. I wanted to bring a first-class facility with new equipment for people. Our treadmills, for example, all have flat screen TVs. So, you can plug your headphones in and watch some Sports Center or anything else while you are getting a workout in.

Q: How important is health and fitness to you?

A: It’s very important. The thing that’s great about Anytime Fitness is that it is a gym for anyone. Everyone can come in and work out and feel comfortable. Someone can come in and workout for thirty minutes and leave feeling good about themselves. To be able to do something like this that I totally believe in is rewarding.

Q: What sports did you participate in when you were younger?

Well, I was a collegiate athlete. I played tennis in college, and I played professional tennis for a little while. I also coached tennis at one point.

 

Thursday, 26 June 2014 22:03

Batter up

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 Former Racer makes it to the big leagues.

Story written by Max Terrell and posted to the website by Ryan Croft.

The Houston Astros drafted former Newcastle Racer Dean Deetz Saturday, June 7, in round 11 of the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft.

Various major league draft websites and analysts ranked Deetz as a top 200 player in the country coming into draft day.

He suffered an ulnar collateral ligament injury (UCL) that made him miss the 2013 season after requiring Tommy John's surgery. Tommy John's surgery is a procedure that replaces the UCL with a tendon from another part of the body.

"It was hard coming off surgery," Deetz said. "I pushed myself everyday so that I could eventually make my dream come true and play professionally."

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Wednesday, 07 May 2014 16:10

Racers soccer season ends

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The Newcastle Racers soccer team played its final game of the season Tuesday night against the Woodward Boomers.

The Racers lost to Woodward, 0-2, in the first round of the  class 4-A state championship playoffs.

“The boys played extremely hard the entire match, leaving everything on the field,” head coach Dale Berglan said in a written statement to the Pacer. “We could just never get it going in the right direction. It was one of those nights when nothing went right for us as a whole.”

The Racers finished the season with an overall 9-4 record.

“It was a great season,” Berglan said.

The Racers start back to practice in January 2015 and regular season play begins March 1.

The team will lose a few starting seniors to graduation but Berglan is looking forward to seeing the young kids step up and carry on the sense of teamwork and selflessness the Racers established this season, he said.

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The Newcastle Racers baseball team beat the 10th-ranked Harrah Panthers Saturday to be third in the overall season rankings with a 19-8 record.

The boys will play Classen School of Advanced Studies in the district competition.

“I expect us to win,” Racers baseball coach Mike Crosley said. “Classen is not the strongest of teams and we shouldn’t have any problem with them.”

The team’s play has improved but its defense will need to be more consistent to make it to regionals, Crosley said.

At times we can really swing it well, he said. We’re showing signs of being a really good ball club but, at times, we’re our own worst enemies.

The girl’s softball team lost its final district game Thursday to Little Axe, finishing 14-20 for the season.

“The loss in the 5th game of districts was very disappointing,” softball coach Byron Mooney said in a written statement to the Pacer. “Unfortunately, we just didn’t hit the ball very well or score many runs.”

The Lady Racers were 4-2 early in the season, before sliding into a 12-game losing streak.

The team regained some of its momentum later in the season, going on to win the White bracket championship in the Harrah Tournament.

Playing consistently well was the main problem and it is what the team will work to improve in the future, Mooney said.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014 22:59

Racer wrestling club to host mud run

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The Newcastle Racers are seeking runners for the Racer Run 2014 fundraiser.

Proceeds from the run benefit the Racers wrestling program, including grades seven through 12.

The course will have a series of challenges including three mud pits, logs floating in a creek that runners must maintain balance across, tire flips, climbing ropes and a spear throw challenge.

Mud run obstacle course races have become a growing fitness trend across the United States, with Oklahoma hosting 10 different mud run races between throughout the late spring and summer seasons, according to MudRunGuide.com.

Hale modeled The Racer Run based on Oklahoma City’s larger Ultimate Mud Warrior obstacle course race, which participants have called, “the best mud run ever,” according to its website.

Hale believes better funding for the wrestling team is essential to its success in competitions, he said.

“The football team will make it to the playoffs and the whole town goes crazy,” Hale said. “I want the community to recognize these boys … the wrestlers’ hard work. We can’t even always afford for everyone to have the same uniform.”

The Pacer’s own staff writer, Ryan Croft, will chronicle his participation in the event with a high-impact, high definition video camera strapped to his head.

Anyone interested in entering the race can visit newcastleracerun.com and use the promotional code, “racerrun14,” to receive $15 off the entry fee.

 

 

 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014 23:07

NHS boy's soccer wins district

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The Newcastle Racers boys and girls soccer teams ended their district series Tuesday April 22, with wins against The Cache Bulldogs.

The boy’s team clinched the district 4-A championship with a 4-0 victory.

Senior Greg Gibson scored the first goal of the night, followed by Shane Martin scoring the other three goals.

The win follows a season of progression that has seen the Racers “getting better each week,” Head Coach Dale Berglan said.

The Racers were ranked seventh going into the last week of the regular season but won all five of their district games to bring their overall record to 9-3. The last three district games were all shutouts.

Forwards Shane Martin and Tyler Fielder led the team’s offense with a season total of 17 goals, six assists and 12 goals, four assists, respectively.

The team will play its first match of the state championships May 6, after receiving a first round bye in the tournament.

“This is a great group of boys. They are the true sense of a team,” Berglan said. “One of the hardest working groups I have ever been associated with. They do not care who gets the accolades. They just want to win.”

The girl’s team won 2-1 against Cache but ended their season with an overall 6-7 record.

Berglan attributed the team’s struggles to losing seven total starting players to injuries and other circumstances beyond the team’s control.

 “Although our overall record is not the best it could be our girls gave their best,” Berglan said in a written statement to the Newcastle Pacer. “It was a season that our team handled as well as they could.”

The team placed third in a Bethany tournament earlier in the year and third in the overall district rankings.

 

Friday, 18 April 2014 20:39

NBA plans expanded program with military

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NEW YORK (AP) — Army graduate Mike Krzyzewski will lead a U.S. national team practice at his alma mater, and the U.S. women will train at the Naval Academy as part of an increased partnership among the NBA, USA Basketball and the Department of Defense.

The NBA and its teams will also organize job fairs and other events to support military personnel in their transition back to civilian life.

The plans were announced Friday following the completion of the NBA's board of governors meeting. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addressed owners at the meeting.

The U.S. men will hold an open practice at West Point on Aug. 18. The women will practice at Navy from Sept. 7-10 as both teams prepare to defend their world titles.

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