By Rob Potter
SULLIVAN COUNTY As a student-athlete at Monticello High School, Ben Newberg enjoyed playing soccer and basketball. He was a member of the Panthers’ junior varsity soccer team as a freshman and sophomore before moving up to varsity for his junior and senior seasons.
He also played on the Monticello JV boys’ basketball team as a sophomore and before joining the varsity team in his junior year.
But in the autumn of 2004, when he was a senior, Newberg tore the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in his knee midway through the soccer season. The injury required surgery, which meant that he missed the remainder of the soccer season as well as the entire 2004-2005 hoops season.
While the injury was physically painful, Newberg also had to deal with being unable to join his teammates out on the court during his senior season.
“It’s fine now,” Ben Newberg said of his knee in a telephone interview last week.
And Newberg is still involved with the game of basketball. He is the Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach at SUNY New Paltz.
After graduating from Monticello High School in June 2005, Newberg attended Orange Community College for two years before transferring to SUNY Albany. Last May, Newberg graduated from SUNY Albany with a Bachelor’s Degree from the school’s College of Arts and Sciences.
He spent two seasons, the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 campaigns, as the Student Manager for the SUNY Albany men’s basketball team.
“I liked it,” Newberg said of the experience.
He enjoyed being a part of the game again, helping the coaches and players prepare for the games.
Last autumn, Newberg was hired as an Assistant Coach for the Hawks basketball team. Soon after the season began in November, he became the lone assistant to Head Coach Dagan Nelson.
“We started out well, we went 11-7,” Newberg said. “But we lost our last seven [regular season] games and finished 11-14.
“We won the Hamilton Tip-Off Tournament title this year in Hamilton [NY], which was the first tournament the SUNY New Paltz men’s basketball has won since 1999,” Newberg added.
With their 11-14 record, the Hawks finished sixth in the 10-team State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) standings. In the postseason conference tourney, New Paltz lost in the first round.
As is the case at many colleges and universities, when one season ends, the coaches and staff members immediately begin preparing for the following year.
“It’s a busy life,” Newberg said. “I spend a lot of time breaking down tapes of opposing teams, scouting teams and teaching our players at practices.”
His work also means that Newberg spends a great deal of time traveling to scout potential players. Unlike National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I, I-A and II colleges and universities which offer full or partial athletic scholarships, New Paltz and other Div. III teams do not. So the New Paltz coaching staff is looking for players who excelled both in the classroom and on the basketball court in high school. Newberg said he enjoys talking with potential future members of the SUNY New Paltz basketball team.
“I get to meet some great student-athletes out there,” Newberg said.
It’s obvious that Ben Newberg enjoys coaching basketball on the college level and sharing his knowledge of the game. While he played soccer and basketball during his four years at Monticello High School, he also enjoys playing golf.
In 2009 and again last summer, Ben Newberg and his father, Marv Newberg, were among the teams competing in the Sullivan County Democrat Two-Man, Better Ball Golf Tournament at the Villa Roma County Club in Callicoon.
Ben admits that his father is the better golfer, but enjoys playing the game and the camaraderie with his father and all of the other golfers.
Perhaps Ben and Marv Newberg will again be teammates at the 2011 Democrat tourney, which is slated to be held Friday, Aug. 5 through Sunday, Aug. 7 at the Villa Roma.