In fifty years of coaching, Joe Newton has won 26 Illinois state titles and inspired a feature-length documentary about his life and successes, called The Long Green Line.
Through Newton’s remarkable tenure at York, he has inspired thousands of kids with his infectious enthusiasm and strong sense of tradition. The number of athletes who dedicate themselves to earning a slot on the York squad each year confirms his influence, as he launched recent seasons with more than 200 runners. Additionally, athletes from across the Chicago area flock to Newton’s annual summer program for the chance to train under the most successful high school cross country coach in the U.S. During the summer of 2004, he oversaw an unprecedented 218 kids.
Newton’s teachings have made lasting impressions on his athletes, with 35 former students going on to become coaches themselves. One of them, Marius Bakken, came to York as a foreign exchange student from Norway and later competed in three Olympic Games. Former runners Donald Sage, the 5th fastest high school miler in history, and Kyle Erickson advanced to the 2004 Olympic Trials.
Newton’s accomplishments have earned recognition from his peers, as Newton was named National High School Cross Country Coach of the Year by the National High School Coaches Association in 1975 and by the National Federation of High School Administrators in 1994. In addition, he has been named High School Cross Country Coach of the Year 16 times by the Northern Illinois Track Coaches Association and 15 times by the Illinois High School Coaches Association.
In 1988, Newton was chosen as one of the coaches of the U.S. Men’s Olympic Team, making him the first high school coach to ever receive this honor. He also has written four books, concentrating on training and motivation.