Cancer-stricken West Hills student gets chance to coach

Leanne Suter Image
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Cancer-stricken West Hills student gets chance to coach
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A cancer-stricken student in West Hills was hired as an assistant coach on the high school basketball team.

WEST HILLS LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A cancer-stricken student in West Hills can't live out his dream to play basketball, but the school coaching staff decided to give him the next best thing and hired him as an assistant coach.

Nate Newman has one goal both on and off the court.

"I just want them to never give up," he says. "Just put your full effort into it because you never know when it'll be taken away from you."

Brain cancer stole the 15-year-old's dream of playing basketball at Chaminade High School. Rigorous chemotherapy and a shunt in his skull make it too dangerous for him to be able to suit up.

"I wish I could be out there, wish I could be out there, that's always in my mind," Newman says.

The teen's love of the game and positive attitude inspired head basketball coach Todd Wolfson to make Newman an assistant coach.

"It's amazing. He's such a positive person, such a great kid. His aura and his energy just reflects and kind of gets into everybody. We love it," Wolfson said.

"It made me feel like I was actually a part of the team," Newman said.

Newman calls the opportunity to coach a blessing, but he says sitting on the bench can be bittersweet.

"It gets me tempted to go out and play like I'm normal ... but I can't, and that hurts me a lot," he said.

His courage and strength in facing the ultimate fight inspires his team.

"He just taught me to be a better person. He has inspired me and my teammates and the coaches to be better people and play better," said senior Jordan Ogundiran.

Despite the life-threatening challenges he faces, Newman says getting to be a coach makes him the biggest winner of them all.

"I get so much from (the team) because it reminds me of me, when I was out there, because they give it their all," he said. "I always gave it my all."