December 7, 2016

Webster student overcomes adversity to accomplish his dream

Webster University sophomore Dominic Newton has travelled 2,580 miles around the world, only to end up in Webster Groves, where he now teams up with a friend he met along the way.

Newton is a computer science major and a guard for the Webster junior varsity basketball team. He has travelled to multiple countries to finally achieve his dream of playing his favorite sport in college: basketball.

Newton lived in  Nassau, the capital city of the Bahamas, until he was three years old when his mother, Samra Newton, decided she wanted to go to college. Newton and his parents moved to the Dominican Republic and stayed there untill he was five.

After living in the Dominican Republic, Newton returned to the Bahamas. He left five years later and he moved to Memphis.

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Photo Credit: Jordan Palmer

“My parents thought that it would be a good opportunity for me to broaden my horizons by coming to the United States to get an education,” Newton said. “They decided to send me over, and I lived with my aunt and uncle when I went to middle school.”

While in Memphis, Newton met Rabasa Turner. Turner is a junior at Webster and is the starting guard for the Gorlok varsity basketball team.

Newton and Turner met in fourth grade at Immaculate Conception Elementary School, where they became instant friends, Newton said.

“When I first met Dominic I thought he was a goofy and unique kid,” Turner said. “He had a thick Bahamian accent and an Afro that was pretty cool. I thought he was a cool kid to add to my list of friends.”

Turner and Newton played basketball together through Newton’s entire time in the U.S., including at the Amateur Athletic Union basketball level. Newton said he became passionate about the sport during the time he spent with Turner.

“My first time I fell in love with [basketball] was in fourth grade. Rabasa and the rest of my friends, they all played on the basketball team,” Newton said. “I didn’t want to be left out so I started playing and ever since I started, I loved it and I wanted to keep doing it as long as I possibly could.”

Newton moved back to the Bahamas to go to high school where he continued to play basketball.

While back home, Newton was introduced to coach Casey Autenrieth. Autenrieth was looking for more athletes to play for him at St. Louis Christian Academy, a boarding school competing at the high school level. Bonnie Basden, Newton’s coach in the Bahamas, encouraged him to attend the school because of his academic success and leadership ability.

Newton finished his last year of high school at the St. Louis Christian Academy and started applying to colleges around the area, one of which was Webster University.

His final college decision came down to academics, not basketball, and Webster was the most appealing, Newton said.

“I came to Webster strictly for school purposes, but I always intended to try out for the basketball team,” Newton said.

Teaming up with Turner was not a factor in his decision. In fact, Newton didn’t know Turner played basketball at Webster.

He said he knew Turner played somewhere in St. Louis, but didn’t know which school.

Turner remembers receiving a text message from his old friend telling him the news that he was accepted to Webster University.

“I randomly got a text message from him telling me the news,” Turner said. “I couldn’t believe that we would  be reunited in college.”

Mentoring for a home

Freshman at Webster are required to live on campus during their first year. For Newton, this wasn’t finacially realistic.

Fortunately, his high school coach let him stay in a room at St. Louis Christian Academy, the boarding school he attended earlier in his life. In return for a place to live, Newton would work as a resident assistant (RA) in the school’s dorms.

“I took care of the high school kids,” Newton said. “I made sure they were in at a certain time, made sure they were doing what they were supposed to do and even helping them with their workouts.”

The drive from St. Louis Christian Academy to Webster University’s home campus is about 15 minutes. Newton didn’t have a car, so he had to ride his bike or take the bus to school every day. His commute to school ended up being an hour and a half one way.

After his freshman year at Webster, Newton returned to the Bahamas for the summer. When he came back to Webster for his sophomore year, Newton was unable to live at St. Louis Christian Academy again because there were no available rooms. However, he was able to get an apartment at The Villages at General Grant, where he currently lives.

1,200 miles apart

Webster University is 1,200 miles from Newton’s hometown in the Bahamas. Feb. 15, Newton’s parents, Roland and Samra Newton, got to see their son play college basketball for Webster for the first time in a loss to Concordia Seminary.

“I’ll say this, his game has improved almost 100 percent from then to now,” Roland Newton said. “He puts in a lot of work, and at the end of the day it’ll pay off for something.”

Both of Dominic Newton’s parents work full-time jobs. Samra Newton is a medical doctor and Roland Newton is a manager for a security company. They say it is hard to find the time to visit the U.S. because of their busy schedules.

When they can’t come to visit Dominic Newton, he visits home during break. His parents said that it is hard not getting to see their son very often.

“He is our only son of our marriage,” Roland said. “It is hard not seeing him as often as we would like.”

Roland Newton also said that even after he graduates college, Dominic Newton could still stay in St. Louis or somewhere in the U.S., based on the opportunities he has.

“It’s hard for me; I’ve always been there,” Samra Newton said. “It’s hard, but you have to let go. It’s [hard] not being able to hear his voice as much as possible.”

Dominic Newton has two more years of eligibility as a college basketball player and is working towards becoming a full-time varsity player. His parents and teammates believe that his drive, passion and hard work will help him continue to fulfill his dream of playing college basketball.

“Playing alongside Dom is the best. He is the ultimate competitor, and never gives up no matter the task,” Turner said. “He is a great teammate and team player. I’ve never met a person that works harder than Dom, and his work ethic is second to none. If I were to pick someone that would stick by my side till the very end, it’s Dominic Newton.”

Additional reporting by Kevin Smith

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