Mya Newton is headed to Western. BERNIE PUCHALSKI

Crossley’s Newton to play OUA volleyball

An impressive blend of hard work, determination and athleticism resulted in Mya Newton signing a letter of intent to play for the Western Mustangs women’s volleyball team.

It also didn’t hurt that the 6-foot-1 outside hitter is blessed with a gene pool loaded with high performance family members doing laps.

Her mother, Maria Fuzesi, represented Canada in rhythmic gymnastics competition at the 1988 Summer Olympics, won four medals at the 1987 Pan American games, six medals at the 1991 Pan American Games, and five medals at the 1990 Commonwealth Games.

Her 6-foot-6 father, Tom Newton, was a member of the McMaster men’s basketball team that made it to three straight national championships and won a pair of silver medals. Uncle Greg Newton played basketball for Duke, where he was the team captain, and represented Canada at 2000 Olympics. Greg’s daughter, Caitlyn Newton, plays volleyball at Purdue and was an All-America honourable mention.

“It’s a big mix from both of them,” said the 17-year-old, when asked which parent her athleticism came from.

“I definitely got my hand-eye coordination from my mother, I can’t say I got the flexibility,” the Grade 12 student at E. L. Crossley said with a laugh. “And I probably got the endurance from both of them. Obviously practising several times a week is not easy.”

Her father played a big role in helping her decide where she wanted to take her volleyball career.

“He is the first person I go to when I have questions about anything. During the recruitment process, I was so nervous and I was also asking him what to do to calm down,” she said. “He helped me out a lot and seeing my family’s history in sports, it pushed me harder. It was something I wanted to do and I had to do it because my family did.”

The Halton Hurricanes travel player has seen her volleyball goals changed over the past three-and-a-half years of high school.

“At the beginning of high school, I was really leaning towards the States because I was more interested in playing beach [volleyball] and it’s kind of hard to play beach here because of the weather.”

Her initial thoughts were to obtain a scholarship at a school in Florida or Arizona, but that changed as her Grade 11 year came to a conclusion.

“I didn’t know if I could be away from home that much. I wanted to be far enough away that I am not home or around the corner, but I want to be close enough that I can come home for a weekend if I need to,” she said. “I started thinking about that and then everything happened with COVID and I began to ask myself if I really wanted to go to the States.”

It was then that she started looking closer to home and reaching out to Ontario University Athletics coaches. She did a number of Zoom meetings with Western head coach Melissa Bartlett and met members of the team through Zoom.

“We started taking in late August and mid-September and they offered me a spot in November. It was pretty quick.”

It was an easy choice.

“It was the bond between the girls and how they all seem so close to each other. That is really important for me.”

Newton also loved the intensity Bartlett brings into the gym.

“It seemed like the perfect athletic fit for me as well as the academics side, which is very important to me. I wanted to go somewhere where I could pursue a career for life and not just worrying about my sport.”

She is planning to study social science with a major in psychology.

“I am hoping to work in either a psychiatric hospital or working with the inmates in prisons. I have always been interested in and like to know why people behave the way they do, especially criminals. I want to work with them and their history to see why they have gone down a certain path.”

She can’t wait to get started in London.

“I am looking forward to all of the student/athlete lifestyle. I have heard that it is super hard with a lot of things to manage. The Western team will hopefully be travelling a lot in 2021 and managing school and sports will be difficult. But I am excited to take on that task.”

She is also excited to show what she can do on a volleyball court.

“I want to show the athletes and the coaches that I deserve a spot on the team and prove to them it was right that they chose me,” she said. “I also want to create bonds that last a lifetime, meet people and do well in school.”

Last year, Western lost in the OUA bronze medal game.

“I am excited because I didn’t necessarily want to join a team that was ranked first. I like making teams better and hopefully I can help them be better than they were last year.”

Newton feels her game has been progressing nicely. She was selected to attend Volleyball Ontario’s High Performance Centre’s eight-day developmental camp in 2019 and was named to the Team Ontario indoor team in 2020.

“I am definitely a lot stronger because over quarantine not being able to train in the gym has really made me work on myself as an athlete, especially the mental state and the nutrition side of things,” she said. “Overall, my performance has become more consistent this year because my body is better prepared for the things that I am putting it through.”

Halton head coach Peter Wong points to a number of attributes that make Newton a good player.

“It’s her physical ability and length, she makes her teammates better on the court and she has a wide variety of skills that make her a very well-rounded player,” he said. “I think she will do great at the next level because she has so much potential.”

Wong believes Newton’s development was enhanced when she switched positions two seasons ago to outside hitter from middle.

“It opened up the things that she could do in a way that impacts the game. That was a big change and she has been able to help her teammates more through her leadership. I think she has grown a lot in terms of being a leader on the practice court and in matches.”

Wong feels the next step in Newton’s progression will be for her to develop a little more power, be better defensively, and stay a little more focused and consistent.

This past spring, Halton finished first in the Grant Prix tournament and would have been the top-ranked team heading into the provincial championships before COVID shut everything down.

“It was terrible and so disappointing. There were a lot of tears but then I started working out to try and improve things off the court and strengthening my muscles and stuff,” Newton said. “It was really hard, especially because a majority of the girls on my team are my best friends. Being home and not being able to see them was really difficult.”

Halton players returned to the practice court in September wearing masks, and Newton and her teammates train three days a week.

 

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