Newsom in right frame of mind in return to competition from surgery


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By Jimmy Allinder

The expression “no gain without pain” has a special meaning for Edison High School softball and basketball player Bianca Newsom.

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The Edison High School senior had tried to battle through pain due to a genetic condition called developmental hip dysplasia that also affected her range of motion.

“I tried to play as long as I could with [it],” said Newsom, an above-average travel team shortstop who started for the high school team since she was a freshman. “But after my sophomore year, I knew I needed to see a doctor. That summer was when I got the news.”

Newsom learned the only way to eliminate the discomfort was with surgery — a daunting prospect since recovery meant walking on crutches for six weeks followed by five months of intense physical therapy. Playing basketball that winter was out of the question.

After undergoing the procedure in July 2015 at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, she began an arduous rehab focused solely on returning to the athletic arena.

It was sheer willpower that enabled Newsom to return to basketball, starting a few games for the Eagles even though the game’s fast pace put a strain on her hip. But when spring arrived, Newsom was back at shortstop on the diamond and played as if she had never gone under the knife, hitting .379 with a team-leading 27 RBIs.

“Being in the right state of mind was crucial to my recovery,” Newsom said. “I kept telling myself, I could add 10 more pounds to the leg press and I could complete an extra set of reps during physical therapy sessions. It really got down to winning those battles raging in my mind.”

Two weeks ago, Newsom was rewarded with a softball scholarship from Wesley College in Dover, Delaware. To Newsom, it validated not only the pain she endured, but also the countless hours of hard work in order to get back to the playing field.

For those who watched Newsom battle through it all, they could only admire her resolve.

“Bianca’s hard work, dedication and passion go far beyond anything I could have asked,” Edison softball coach Christina Hopkins said. “She’s not only an outstanding player but an amazing captain and epitomizes what it means to be a teammate.”

Newsom’s basketball playing days for the Eagles ended a week ago when they were eliminated in the NJSIAA tournament, but coach Frank Eckert echoes Hopkins’ observation.

“Bianca’s value went well beyond statistics,” he said. “Every day, she brought a strong work ethic, unselfish attitude and leadership, which had a positive impact on our team. Bianca was a true asset on so many levels, and we will miss her.”

Newsom first honed her softball skills as a member of the 8U Edison Angels before moving up to the 16U Central Jersey Cyclones. She is currently with the East Coast Elite, where she plays second base or in the outfield. Newsom said playing for the Elite was what really accelerated her development.

“Honestly, the Elite experience is the major reason I elevated my game, physically and mentally,” she said. “I’ve developed into a much better hitter, and I’m hungrier than ever to succeed.”

A quality student, Newsom experienced the same doubts about going the extra mile with her studies as she did rehabbing her hip.

“I’d be torturing myself by typing essays at 2 a.m. trying to earn As and started getting these thoughts it’s OK to be average,” she said. “But when I received the scholarship, I realized that never would have happened without those sleepless nights and working to get back into playing shape. I’m so thankful now that I kept at it.”

Newsom credits her mother, Terry; brother, Zack; father, Mike Litinsky; a host of family friends; and a long list of past and present coaches and doctors who performed her hip surgery with helping her get to where she is today.

“Without their support, my life would surely be more different than it is,” she said. “You really have no clue how far you can go until you make the effort to get there.”

State tournaments

Three Bishop George Ahr High School wrestlers who qualified for the state finals in Atlantic City were unable to mount the medal stand.

David Loniewski (120 pounds) was eliminated in the second wrestleback round by Connor O’Neil of DePaul Catholic High School, 5-0. Loniewski lost to Hunter Graf of Hunterdon Central Regional High School, 8-0, in the preliminary round and bounced back to defeat Jotaro Kurachi of River Dell High School, 6-4, in the first wrestleback round.

Dylan O’Connor (126 pounds) advanced to the pre-quarterfinals with a 5-2 victory against Rhise Royster of Rahway High School in the preliminary round. However, O’Connor dropped a 7-5 tiebreaker to Highland Regional High School’s Justin Cariss that relegated O’Connor to the second wrestleback round, where he defeated Luke Moynihan of Lacey Township High School, 5-1. O’Connor went on to defeat Charles Cunningham of Seton Hall Preparatory School, 5-1, in the third round but was eliminated in the next round by Carmen Ferrante of Bergen Catholic High School, 4-2.

Andrew Brazicki (195 pounds) mounted a spirited effort to win a medal but was eliminated in the third wrestleback round by Jack Miller of Westfield High School, 3-2. Brazicki opened the preliminary round by pinning Jayson Peralta of Cherry Hill High School West in 1:04 but lost in the pre-quarterfinals to Brian Bonino of Paramus High School, 5-2. That put Brazicki in the second wrestleback round, where he pinned Luke Niemeyer of South Plainfield High School in 1:50. But in the next round, Brazicki was defeated again by Miller, 3-2.

The only area boy’s basketball team remaining in the NJSIAA tournament, Saint Joseph High School of Metuchen, was eliminated in the semifinals of Non Public A South by Bishop Eustace Preparatory School, 63-46, to end the season with a 26-2 record. The Falcons captured the Greater Middlesex Conference Red Division and tournament championships this season.

The lone area girls’ team left in Central Jersey, Group I, Metuchen High School, was eliminated in the semifinals by Shore Regional High School, 50-35, to end with a 16-11 overall record.

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