Newman steps down as coach at First State Military Academy

Blair Newman

CLAYTON — Blair Newman can admit it now.

The idea of being a high school head football coach was a little daunting to the former Caesar Rodney High standout four years ago.

Newman wasn’t even 30 yet. And he was going to be building a program at a new school, First State Military.

“I told a lot of people I worked with, I didn’t think I was ready to be a head coach at that time,” said Newman. “But I had no choice. I not only had to be a head coach but I had to start a program from scratch.

“That was a big learning curve — from ordering the equipment to putting together a staff that wasn’t in the building. We didn’t have any teachers at the time.”

Somehow it all worked out OK, though. The Bulldogs got a little better each season.

Now, however, Newman has decided it’s time to face some new challenges. The 33-year-old has stepped down as football coach to take on the responsibilities of dean of students and transportation supervisor at FSMA.

Newman will remain the school’s athletic director. He said FSMA has almost completed the process of hiring his successor.

The decision to move on from coaching wasn’t an easy one for Newman. Both his grandfather and his dad, John, were long-time high school coaches.

“High school football in Delaware has been part of my life for a long time,” said Newman, who played at both Delaware and Wesley in college. “It’s been a part of my family. So stepping away from being a coach was bittersweet.

“I knew I wanted to move up in administration some day. I never thought that opportunity would come that quick. I kind of felt like, in this time in my life, I couldn’t turn it down.”

Because of its conference affiliation with the Diamond State Conference, the Bulldogs had to start playing at the varsity level a year earlier than they planned. After one JV campaign, FSMA moved up to varsity in 2017 and went 0-9.

But the Bulldogs started 3-0 the following season before finishing 4-5 last fall.

Coaching at a small school without a feeder system is always a challenge.

“I’m very proud of the work that our kids have put in over the past several years,” said Newman, who also worked as an assistant at both CR and Woodbridge. “Last year was our first graduating class that I actually had those kids for four years. It was very special to see them go from being freshmen playing JV, to sophomores playing varsity and having three years of experience on the varsity level.

“When they took the team from an 0-9 season to a 4-5 season last year was pretty special as a coach to see how much they’d grown.”

If there was one big moment from his coaching tenure that Newman said he’ll always remember, it was seeing his players win the program’s first game.

After losing to Red Lion Christian, 42-6, in 2017, the Bulldogs edged the Lions, 14-12, to start the following season.

Newman has a picture with the scoreboards from both games hanging in his office. There’s also a football from that first victory in the school.

“I can remember the excitement in my kids’ eyes,” said Newman. “I can remember the excitement in the coaching staff who had worked hard for two years trying to get the kids to that level. And I can just remember my dad giving me a big hug and telling me ‘Congratulations,’ because it was my first win as a head coach.

“That was pretty special.”