During his 23 years as a manager for the Wisconsin Dells High School football, basketball and baseball teams, Johnny Newman has had a front row seat to see some of the best Wisconsin Dells athletes in action. On Saturday, Newman joined the school’s very best, as he became the 43rd member of the Wisconsin Dells High School Athletic Hall of Fame during a brief ceremony held at JustAgame Fieldhouse.
Newman, a 1970 Wisconsin Dells graduate, played football for two years, baseball for four years, and served as the manager of the basketball team for three years during his time at the school, but is best known for his support as a manager, a role he began when his son started playing sports in Wisconsin Dells in 1995.
Newman still enjoys helping out for the Wisconsin Dells teams today.
“I could have quit when my son graduated, but I figured ‘I’m having too much fun,’” Newman said during his speech following the Wisconsin Dells boys basketball against North Scott (Iowa) on Saturday.
Newman’s daughter Adrianne Newman, who presented her father on Saturday, talked about how much her dad enjoyed working with the Wisconsin Dells sports teams, while retelling a story about the time he was getting ready to finish a 32-year stint working at the Rayovac factory in Portage.
“A few days before his last day of work, I asked him what he was most excited about doing after retirement,” Adrianne said. “Without hesitation, he said ‘now I can make more of the games, and now I can even go to practices too.’”
During his 23 years working with the school’s athletic programs, he has been a part of six football playoff teams, 24 conference championships, 14 regional titles, as well as two state tournament appearances. All those years have also helped fill his closet full of Columbia blue and white Wisconsin Dells shirts.
“He could probably skip laundry for weeks, just wearing Dells gear alone,” Adrianne joked on Saturday.
Following Saturday’s ceremony, about 40 students joined Newman on the gym floor and presented him with a Hall of Fame banner.
“This is overwhelming. Of course, I never did this for myself,” Newman said. “I thank all the coaches and staff. Things change, situations change. I sure did. It changed my life doing this.”