Augusta has named Roger Newton as their next head coach of the boys’ basketball program.
Newton comes over from Bath County, where he coached the girls’ team the last two seasons. Prior to that he coached the Nicholas County boys’ program for two seasons.
“We felt like this can be a home for a while and that’s what was most important to me and my family,” Newton said, who accepted the position on Monday. “We’re looking to settle in and stay for a while. I really wasn’t planning on looking, but had a contact in the community who told me to take a look at it. So I took a few calls and talked to a few people and realized this is a great place to be. When I coached at Nicholas, I was impressed at how they played and how passionate their community is. Things just kind of fell in place and they gave me the opportunity.”
Newton takes over for Brian Kirk, who took the Mason County job in late May, coaching the prior three seasons with the Panthers. Kirk also served as the schools’ Athletic Director, a position Newton will also fill as well as the health and physical education teacher.
“Coach Newton is a good, quality person. We liked the way he handled himself in the interview process,” Augusta principal Robin Kelsch said. “He’s an outstanding teacher, which was a strong emphasis for us, just as important as coaching. He has AD experience in high school and the college level.”
Newton has been an Athletic Director at Greenup County, Grace College, Indiana Tech University, East Jessamine and Lexington Christian Academy.
In two seasons at Bath, Newton coached the Lady Cats to a 15-45 record, losing in the first round of the 61st District Tournament both seasons. At Nicholas County, the Bluejackets were 21-37 under his stead.
Augusta is coming off a 12-15 season and a first round exit in the 39th District Tournament and graduated five seniors. Newton will have some pieces to work with come October when practices get started as numerous players return from last year’s primary rotation.
“There’s a lot of talent here and a lot of talent in the feeder program. I know Augusta is known for a hard-nosed program that’s passionate for the game. It’s an outstanding program that doesn’t look at the size of their school or class numbers to hold them back. They see it as a challenge and rise to the challenge and compete,” Newton said.
The Panthers close out their summer slate of games on Tuesday and Wednesday. Newton said he plans to sit back and observe and evaluate as assistant coaches Jeff Crawford and Phil White continue with coaching duties. Newton hasn’t had the chance to discuss who will fill out the coaching staff, but definitely wants Crawford and White to be a part of it.
“Those two are very loyal and view them as a positive influence on what to do moving forward and hope they are a big part of it,” Newton said. “I’ve known Coach Crawford and Coach White for a few years and that they’ve been there for a long time, so I’m hoping they can help me weather some storms and hope to learn from them and what I can bring to the table.”
Newton has a lengthy coaching resume, starting his coaching career in 1991 at Tates Creek as an assistant under Nolan Barger, who ended up winning 540 games at Tates Creek. He got his first head coaching job at East Jessamine in 1997 when they split with West Jessamine to make two schools. Prior to Nicholas and Bath County, he also had a stop at Lexington Christian Academy. Newton has a Masters Degree from Baylor University in Athletic Administration and has worked at the University of Kentucky under Mitch Barnhart.
“Having done this at other schools, I feel like handling both Athletic Director and coaching duties is something I‘ll be able to juggle,” Newton said.
Newton becomes the 24th coach in the Augusta program dating back to 1933, according to the record book in The Ledger Independent office.
“It really feels like a family atmosphere here and as a coach I look forward to that opportunity. I’ve already had an overwhelming amount of support from the community whether it be through social media, calls or texts. I know it’s a really tough district with two coaches that are very familiar with the program here having coached at Augusta. The 10th Region to me is right up there with any of the regions in the state having coached in other regions. I have great respect and there’s a world of coaching talent in this region and makes for a great challenge to be the best you can be,” Newton said..