As Michigan State hockey transitions into the tenure of new head coach Tom Anastos, there will be a familiar face on the bench assisting the rookie head coach.Â Assistant coach Tom Newton will be back for yet another year as a Spartan, and Michigan State hockey fans should be thankful for that fact.
Newton has been a Spartan for the last 22 years, under both Ron Mason and Rick Comley, and has been the heart of the Michigan State program throughout that time.Â Itâ€™s for this reason that Anastos made his best move thus far by retaining Coach Newton.Â â€œIt meant a lot to me and a lot to my family,â€ Newton said, â€œMichigan State hockey has been the majority of my professional life and itâ€™s been such a great experience that having the opportunity to go forward with Coach Anastos and Coach Miller is really an exciting thing for me.â€Â He continued, â€œBeing able to continue to impact young menâ€™s livesâ€¦in all sorts of areas is what I feel good about doing.â€
To understand his impact on the hockey program you need only listen to what his former players have said about him.Â Former Spartan star Jim Slater said of Newtonâ€™s influence, â€œHeâ€™s been a big part of this program for many years. You can see the success and heâ€™s been a part of it.â€Â While former MSU captain Drew Miller stated, â€œHeâ€™s allowed me to be part of the Spartan family at an early age and heâ€™s done a great job.â€
Millerâ€™s words ring especially true, because Newton has certainly treated his players like family.Â He understands that every player needs a different type of motivation.Â Some players may need a swift kick to the pants, while others may need a slightly softer approach.Â Newton said that he got this skill from his father, â€œHe always told me that young people donâ€™t need friends, they need leadership, support and certain things at certain times.â€Â He went on to say, â€œSometimes they need an arm, sometimes they need a little push in the backside.Â As you go through the coaching ranks you develop a feel of when itâ€™s needed.â€Â Coach Newton understands that any good coach should be able to adapt his style to what a player specifically needs, and that is the way you get the most out of your players, not the other way around.
Coach Newton also understands that the role of an assistant coach is absolutely vital to the success of any program. Â â€œBeing honest with who you are and what your role is, is really important,â€ he said commenting on the lack of glory most assistant coaches tend to receive. Â â€œSome guys play in the corner and others play in front of the net and get all the gloryâ€ he continued, â€œYou just have to know your role, play your role, and there are no unimportant roles on a team.â€
But at the end of the day, Coach Newton is just that, a coach, and he relishes every second of being able to shape the lives of the young men on his team. Â â€œI still get really excited about the process of becoming a player, the process of becoming a good team,â€ he said.Â However, he also understands the necessity of enjoying his work. Â â€œOnce that process becomes old and boring to you, then youâ€™re done,â€ he explained.Â This is absolutely true, but from everything heâ€™s saying, it looks like it will be a very very long time before Coach Newton is ever â€œdoneâ€ with coaching.