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No. 43 forever
Aug 29, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports Editor
Newlin's number retired by RHS
During her freshman season of girls basketball for Riverton High School, Kristen Newlin was the last player to get to pick her jersey.
She selected No. 43.
"Everybody had their jerseys," said Newlin on when she picked her number. "I think there was No. 43 and a single-digit number. I said that I'm the tall player and that I have to have the bigger number. It waited for me."
On Tuesday night, 12 years later, her No. 43 was officially retired in a ceremony at Wolverine Field.
Newlin graduated from RHS in 2003.
After playing at Stanford University, the 6-foot-5 center continues to wear her No. 43 jersey playing professional basketball in Turkey.
"I didn't want to change," Newlin said. "It felt like it was part of me. When I hear No. 43, it always has a special meaning for me."
The ceremony featured the RHS band and cheerleaders and drew about 250 spectators.
Two-time United States Olympian Brett Newlin, Kristen's older brother, was also recognized at the ceremony. He competed in rowing in the Beijing and London games.
"The support was unbelievable to me," Newlin said. "I knew that before tonight, I had so much support for both my brother and me. We hear it all the time. I have been away from Riverton for 10 years. We still have people following us. It's just very humbling. We are very appreciative."
Former Wolverine quarterback Corte McGuffey is the only other Riverton High School athlete to have his number retired. He wore No. 10.
"Kristen does not like to talk about herself," former RHS girls basketball coach Frank Irvine said.
Irvine said Newlin is a true role model on and off the court.
"Kristen is always about the team," Irvine said.
"She didn't care about the records. Sure, she enjoyed the records, but that was never her focus."
Longtime RHS basketball public-address announcer Steve Peck also spoke.
Kristen gave credit to her parents, Mick and Pat Newlin.
"They are my biggest supporters," Kristen said. "That is where it all started. They encouraged me to excel."
Kristen said her parents had high expectations of her from the start.
"They had expectations that I do my best in everything that I did," Kristen said. "I couldn't have asked for anything more."
Pat Newlin said the family will remember Tuesday night for a long time.
"This is a memory maker," Pat said. "It's like a class reunion and a family reunion."
Former Riverton High School basketball teammate Terrayne Fleak-Kintzler watched the ceremony at Wolverine Field.
"It was fun playing with her, especially having the height," Fleak-Kintzler said. "She is very competitive. We were all very competitive. We wanted to win. It was nice having a freshman girl that played beyond her years."
Fleak-Kintzler was a senior when Newlin was a freshman for the Wolverines. Their team lost in the Class 4-A state semifinal that year in overtime.
"I knew that she had a whole lot of potential as a freshman," Fleak-Kintzler said. "She was scoring points.
She was bringing the ball up. There was something special about her."
Fleak-Kintzler said she became emotional on Tuesday night in the stands.
"That was amazing to see her jersey retired. That brought tears to my eyes. That is a pretty awesome accomplishment for anyone."
Back to pro ball
Newlin said she recently signed a new three-year contract with her Fenerbache Istanbul team in Turkey.
Her team won the Turkish league championship in 2011,
"It's a great team to be on," Newlin said. "They are very professional.
It's so great to have found a spot. I'm sticking there. It's a great opportunity for me."
Her pro season runs from mid-October to April.
"Everyone has things that they need to get better at," Newlin said. "In the offseason, I'm staying in shape.
I'm always trying to get stronger. Those are the things that I'm focusing in right now."
Newlin also was a member of the Turkish national team that was runner-up in the European championships in 2011.