Newman will light up the night at Liberty lacrosse games, through on-campus ministry
Liberty University men’s lacrosse Head Coach Kyle McQuillan believes the spiritual impact incoming recruit Bennett Newman will have on campus will be even greater than the athleticism he will bring to the game.
“The real thing we are excited for about Bennett is that he understands our culture, what’s important to us as far as the way we play the game, and he will be an asset to us not only on the field, but also off the field in our spiritual development,” McQuillan said. “That’s huge for a team to have somebody who has that passion. He’s a great kid and comes from a great family. All of the Newmans have their priorities straight. They enjoy the sport of lacrosse and love to use it to minister to others, so we are excited to have him come in and be a part of that process.”
Bennett is the second of four lacrosse-playing brothers from the Cincinnati area who have all attended Liberty Lacrosse’s Flames Futures Summer Camps for years, following Caleb, who as a junior long-stick midfielder helped Cornell reach the NCAA Division I National Championship game this past spring. Playing lacrosse at the world’s largest Christian university was too good of an opportunity to pass up for Newman, who spent the past two summers serving with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Hawaii.
“From the camps I have been to, I love the spiritual atmosphere at Liberty, surrounded by so many people in love with the Lord,” Newman said. “That’s what my heart really burns for and adding lacrosse in the midst of that spiritual life on campus is what really hooked me.”
McQuillan is hopeful that Newman will be a light in the locker room and classroom as he pursues his degree through the School of Business and that he will shine equally brightly on and off the field, with a heart for ministering to others and sharing the Gospel.
“Our guys in the locker room need to be ministered to as much as anybody on campus, and they will benefit from players like him who will take that role seriously, through mentorship and spiritual development which leads to maturity,” McQuillan said. “That is just as important, if not more than (on-field performance), and it is something he really excels in. If we have guys gifted in that area who are called to make such an impact on our team, both in the short term and the long term, it is invaluable.”
“That’s my whole heart going into Liberty,” Newman added. “I know there’s many believers, but many may be new to the faith and ready to be discipled, or to encounter the Lord in deeper ways. Spending the past two years with YWAM was heart preparation for the mission field of Liberty, where I want to do whatever the Lord has for me.”
Newman has gone on a few mission trips and spent several summers serving and mentoring underprivileged youth at an inner-city camp in Cincinnati.
“I am trying to invest a lot of time into my community this summer, and my family and I are pioneering a house of prayer in my hometown, doing prayer sets daily, so that people can understand and move God’s heart and the Kingdom of Heaven,” he said.
He has others’ interests in mind in pursuing a business degree.
“I thought it would be wise to not only help meet a struggling nation’s spiritual needs, but their physical needs too, as Jesus did,” said Newman, who wants to one day work as a full-time missionary in southeast Africa. “I would like to help build up a Third World nation’s economy, so they don’t have to see the poverty a lot of these people are living in.”
As an attack and midfielder on the lacrosse field, Newman has proven his worth despite his diminutive 5-foot-9, 160-pound frame, showcasing versatility, elusiveness, and field vision that make him a dual-threat scorer and playmaker.
After traveling to Lake Placid, N.Y., to play on the FCA Lacrosse National team, Newman set Lebanon High School’s program scoring records for a season (67 goals, 28 assists, 95 points) and game (8G, 3A, 11 points) as a junior in 2019. His younger brother, Jackson —also on Liberty’s recruiting radar along with Hudson, a rising freshman at Lebanon — broke the latter mark with an 8-goal, 4-assist game as a junior this past spring.
Bennett’s senior season was canceled by COVID-19, so he hasn’t played an official lacrosse game in more than three years.
“Obviously, after taking three years off, I’ve got a lot of work to do to get into lacrosse shape, physically and with my sprinting,” said Newman, who has represented the United States in the World Championships for obstacle course racing, such as Spartan and Tough Mudder events. “My lacrosse IQ has always been high, and it has stayed high. I’ve gotten a lot stronger and can get my stick skills back up to where they were, but I’ve got to get my speed and quickness back.”
“It’ll take a little bit of time, but one of the beauties of college lacrosse is that you have the whole fall semester to get ready,” McQuillan added. “We’ve got an opportunity to use the fall to build our culture and work on establishing conditioning, without having any real games.”
McQuillan and his staff don’t have a recent scouting report on Newman but have been recruiting him since he first set foot on Liberty’s campus in the mid-2010s.
“It’s been a while since we have seen him play, but we remember him as a really creative player, a solid athlete who has the ability to do a lot of different things and have the attributes of a jack of all trades,” McQuillan said. “I would equate Bennett to a player like (rising junior middie) Keaton (Mohs) with his flexibility and creativity. As a midfielder, he would be required to do a lot more (than as an attackman), and to use a wider range of abilities.”
He expects Newman to work his way into the rotation as a freshman this fall.
“Anybody we identify as an official recruit we feel can make an impact pretty quickly, but he will have to come in and earn that spot,” McQuillan said. “We give guys a chance to earn those stripes, and there are a lot of guys ahead of him now. The good news is at his position, we need a lot of midfielders and want a lot of depth, enough to run three full lines of midfielders.”
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer