Double Duty: Newberry plays for UH girls' team, then cheers for boys

Jeff Birchfield • Jan 26, 2019 at 5:23 PM

It's a typical game night and there is no time to spare for Calli Newberry.

She has just finished playing basketball for the University High girls' team, but there's just 10 minutes until she has to be back on the floor. Don't worry, she has this routine down pat.

She quickly changes out of her No. 22 basketball uniform, gets cleaned up and puts on her cheerleading outfit. From there, her mom will come and assist with her hair and makeup before she gets out on the court.

It's just one of the challenges Newberry faces doing both roles, but the University High senior said it's been well worth it.

"It's definitely been hard," she said. "Whenever I decided I was going to cheer, I had to talk to (University High girls basketball) Coach (Herman) Rice about it. He said after games I could go straight to the locker room and get dressed. That's what I've done ever since I've been cheering.

"There have been times I've had to learn the cheers during the boys' game and then perform the same cheer I just learned. It's been hard, but I've really enjoyed it."

The double-duty isn't unique, as Sarah-Catherine Fowler did it for University High nine years ago. She also excelled at both and was also a key player on the soccer team. ETSU women's coach Brittney Ezell recalled her best friend in high school both played and cheered. For Newberry to do both, it took cooperation from Rice and cheerleading coach Jennifer Daniel.

"Callie approached me before the season and asked me what I thought about her playing basketball and then cheering for the boys' game," Rice said. "Callie's just a special young lady, a great student, a great kid and I thought if that's what she wants to do, we're going to support her doing it. There haven't been any conflicts whatsoever and she's been one of our best basketball players."

Newberry had wanted to do both activities since her freshman year, but one of her former coaches wasn't keen on the idea. Coach Daniel, whose son Colin plays on the boys' team, was open to giving it a try. She praised Newberry's commitment and talked about how the coaches have worked together to help her out.

"There haven't been any problems at all," Daniel said. "Coach Rice has been so accommodating. There have been a couple of times I've told him that we're learning something new at practice, and have asked if Callie could miss some of basketball practice to be there. We've worked together to make that happen where she could learn the most with both sports."

Newberry has played basketball since five years old and she has a true passion for the game. She has put more work in the gym than ever before for her senior season, in which the Lady Bucs have already hitting double-digit wins. She is a starter who typically plays a lot of minutes — and her coach has never once had to question her effort.

"I've often wondered how she has the energy to cheer because she leaves it on the floor every night," Rice said. "She plays a ton of minutes and she comes out covered with sweat because she's all about hard work. Then it's amazing to see the transition where she goes from a player to a few minutes later, she's all cleaned up and out there as a cheerleader."

Newberry, who plans to enroll in the ETSU nursing program after high school, went to both basketball and cheerleading camps over the summer. She quickly made friends with the other cheerleaders and has since made quite an impression on them and her coach.

"It is amazing to see her get off the court, rush to get ready and learn what the girls are doing. She hasn't missed a beat," Daniel said. "It's been great to have her on the team. I'm pleased how it's worked out for her and for us."

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