PDT Sports Contributor
Ethan Newton is a junior at Clay High School who started this soccer season with a strong showing. The Panthers began their season with three straight wins. Newton scored two goals and assisted on three in his first game, scored two goals and assisted on one in his second game and scored a hat trick with two assists in his third game. He and his teammate Tyler Knittel are both forwards/strikers and are currently tied for goals scored and assists made for the Panthers.
Newton isn’t one to boast about his strong season so far. He doesn’t like to talk about himself much. Until this opportunity, he had never been interviewed for an article in a newspaper.
“My mom, grandfather and great grandfather have all been in the paper but this is a first for me,” Newton said.
Newton’s mother Mindy Keaton (Mindy Powell) was a record setter for Clay High School, where she still holds the title for strikeouts. His grandfather, Michael Powell, went to the Little League World Series as a pitcher in 1961 and is being immortalized on the new little league mural in New Boston, Ohio.
For a young adult with so much athleticism pumping through his veins, Newton couldn’t seem more humble about his ability to kick around the soccer ball so well.
“I didn’t really know how seriously I should take soccer,” Newton said. “Everyone told me that I was good at it but I didn’t really see it.”
Newton has only been playing soccer for this season and last. Before his sophomore year, he devoted all of his time to his long time love of cross country.
In his freshman year Newton was a leading performer for Clay’s cross country team, coached by Ted Garrett. He went down for a month due to shin splints and returned to the sport after he recovered.
“I came back and for the rest of the season I performed alright but definitely not at my best,” He said.
Newton made the decision to pick up soccer for a lot reasons; as a way to further his interest in athleticism and physical fitness, for the chance to challenge himself in new ways and to play for coach Mark Trapp. Newton refers to Trapp as a role model and a mentor.
In his sophomore year, Newton’s soccer season and cross country season kept him very busy. He would play in a soccer game and then run for cross country practice after.
“I spent a lot of my free time sleeping that year. I was so wore out,” Newton said. He only scored one goal his sophomore season.
He shocked his family and friends when he made the decision to focus solely on soccer during the summer before his junior year. He went as far as to talk to coach Garrett, thank him for the experience and to explain in detail why he couldn’t continue balancing both sports.
According to Newton, one thing that drove him to his new found love of the game of soccer was the Shawnee State Men’s team. Coach Trapp took members of his team over the summer to help the team practice and prepare for their season.
“We were having indoor practices and coach Trapp asked a few of us if we wanted to practice with the Shawnee team,” Newton said. “I learned so much from those guys. They were so kind and they taught me so much. I even scored a goal during a scrimmage.”
Newton plans on attending Shawnee State University and hopes that he can play for the Bears. He wants to major in bioengineering, particularly expressing his interest in working with systems of water.
Newton is a young adult who admires his peers, talking about his on-the-field dynamics with all of his teammates but especially fellow forward Knittel, center midfielder Aaron Keyser and defensive center Devin Holcomb.
“Those guys are great,” Newton said. “We play competitively and try to challenge each other.”
Even more than his peers, Newton respects and admires the adult mentors in his life; constantly talking about the influence of coach Trapp, coach Garrett and coach Doug Ledingham, who coaches U-15 and works a lot with the Panthers team. He had more than a few words to say about the positive influence of his mother, father, siblings and the rest of his family.
When asked about the 2015 Clay Panthers, Newton used one word to sum up his team; family.
“I think the reason we are performing so well is because we treat each other like family, on and off the field,” Newton said. “We have goals as a team and we want the best for everyone. We want to represent our school, our coach and our community.”
Newton wants to see his team win the SOC title and dreams of the district title but moreover he wants to take the good that he does this season and improve upon it. He hopes to work with the SSU Bears again this summer and take his team even further during his senior season.
“I want to devote my time senior year to keeping my GPA up and to bettering myself in soccer,” he said.
Newton wants to be a role model for other young adults. He sees himself as someone who is less important than the whole team, the whole family or the whole school. His importance is in his function and his purpose for these groups.
“Anyone can be good, anyone can achieve more than they feel possible. It just takes a lot of work,” Newton said. “I want other kids my age to know that.”
The Clay Panthers play Fairland at home tomorrow night, Thursday September 10th.
Cody Leightenheimer is a stringer for the Portsmouth Daily Times. Reach him @leightenheimer.