Sam Newman intends to be a basketball coach, like his father, and the Mahtomedi graduate has landed what you’d call a plum job to start his career.
Fresh out of college, Newman is a graduate assistant at Florida State University, in the nation’s top college league, the Atlantic Coast Conference. He got the job after working FSU camps.
“Getting the opportunity to work in the ACC is a dream come true,” said Newman, who was an all-conference guard averaging 10.5 points his senior year at Mahtomedi, and played football in college. “Especially at FSU, which is a top 20 program year in and year out. Being able to learn under the FSU staff is the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Newman calls it “awesome” to serve under Seminole head coach Leonard Hamilton, who has a 337-217 record in his 18th season, leading the Seminoles to seven NCAA berths, two Sweet 16 appearances and one Elite Eight, and the program’s lone ACC title (2012). He’s been ACC coach of the year twice.
“He truly would run through a wall for his players,” Newman said. “He works as hard as any coach in the country to try to get that edge.”
Newman is 2015 graduate of Mahtomedi High School, where his father Keith is the basketball coach. He played guard on a 19-10 team that reached section finals his senior year when the Zephyrs were in Class 4A. He was a football wide receiver and cornerback.
Newman played football for two season at Bethel University before concussions finished his playing days. He graduated this year with a degree in marketing.
During college, he got into coaching basketball on his dad’s staff at Mahtomedi, as a volunteer assistant at all levels the first year, then as freshman boys coach and varsity assistant the second year. This summer, he coached the varsity at the Pacesetter Sweet 16 tournament.
Newman heard about the Florida State opening from a fellow Bethel alum, Andy Birdsong, who had been a graduate assistant at FSU for a year before leaving to take a front office position with the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.
Birdsong advised Newman to reach out to FSU and try fill that opening by helping out at their camps, which is where they evaluate candidates for graduate assistant.
‘Ultimately, I went down to Tallahassee for two and a half weeks,” Newman said, “and worked as hard as I could at their team camps and individual camps, to try to receive an offer.”
The Seminole staff must have liked what they saw, as they offered him the job as one of six graduate assistants in the program.
His tasks vary from day to day at Florida State, which has won two of its first three games.
“Being a high level program, there is a ton of work to do to continue to have that leg up on your competitors,” said Newman, who also attends graduate school, “so I just look for ways to plug in and help in any way possible. This may mean rebounding for a player, or helping make a recruiting visit go as smoothly as possible, wherever I am needed.”
Newman will have a two-year tenure at FSU and plans use that experience as a springboard. “Whether that is in the NBA or college I want to continue to follow my passion.”