Green is his color, No. 5 is his number and baseball is his game.
That hasn’t changed for Dylan Newman. Neither has his persona.
Anyone who runs into Newman inevitably comes across the same smiling, happy-go-lucky young man with the cheerful outlook.
Not even an ongoing battle with bone cancer has changed that for the Southold High School senior.
Ever since being diagnosed in 2018 with Ewing sarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer, Newman has faced the situation with courage and an indefatigable spirit that has earned him selection as The Suffolk Times’ 2021 Sportsperson of the Year. After two years out of the sport, he returned to the Southold baseball team last spring and is currently playing for the school’s basketball team.
Just by talking to Newman and observing his interactions with teammates, one would never imagine what he has gone through and continues to go through with treatments. His demeanor is positive. He remains upbeat, giving the impression that he doesn’t have a care in the world. “It’s all good,” he said.
“The kid’s resilient and you would never have any idea as to what’s going on in his life,” baseball coach Greg Tulley said. “In the five years I’ve known him, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him in a bad mood.”
Newman has been through a lot. He played about half of his eighth-grade baseball season when pain in his hip led to a diagnosis of Ewing sarcoma. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments followed. He underwent surgery to remove a tumor from his pelvis and fibula in July of 2018.
Doctors determined he was in remission that October. He had completed a 53-week chemotherapy regimen. But in October of 2020, it was announced that Newman was dealing with a recurrence of the disease and wearing a backpack that continually administers medicine through a port.
The community rallied around Newman, embracing him and his family — father Todd, mother Tanya and sister Kelsey. Fundraising efforts have been made to help the family meet medical expenses.
“This community has been like overwhelmingly amazing, and those words are not even enough,” Todd told News 12 Long Island. Todd has repeatedly referred to his son as his “hero.”
Dylan Newman missed his freshman baseball season while undergoing treatment and then his sophomore season, which fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic. But he made his return to the baseball diamond last spring, rejoining his teammates.
“Really cool,” he said at the time. “I mean, it makes me happy to be back on the field.”
Newman played in 11 games last spring, finishing with a .333 batting average, .500 on-base percentage and 10 RBIs. He mostly played third base or served as a designated hitter, although he did make one start as a pitcher, allowing one unearned run in four innings against Greenport.
“He played great,” Tulley said. “He missed time because of treatment and stuff. A week here, a week there he missed a couple of series, but when he was out there, he gave everything that he had.”
Does baseball have healing properties?
Teammate Tom Cardi said: “That’s what he needed. He needed baseball.”
And now basketball. Newman plays a couple of roles for the First Settlers in hoops. Not only is he one of the team’s captains, but he is also the team manager.
“He became team manager because he didn’t know what his role would be on the team this year from a physical standpoint, but we knew we wanted him to be involved,” coach Lucas Grigonis said. “He wanted to be involved.”
Newman sat at the scorer’s table at the start of the season, but the forward made his varsity debut in Southold’s seventh game of the season, a 72-13 home win over Shelter Island on Dec. 21. He came off the bench for five points and two rebounds, playing about 13 minutes.
“I actually think he moves better now than he did two years ago [following his surgery], so in that sense, I think he’s actually even more capable despite the treatments, which are exhausting, I’m sure,” said Grigonis.
And, oh yeah, Newman played in that game just one day after undergoing a chemotherapy treatment, said Grigonis.
“He really inspires you,” Grigonis said. “Even me as a coach, he inspires you to just keep your head down and keep working, keep grinding.”
He added: “I think he raises the competitive level. Everyone wants to work hard when Dylan’s on [their] team. It’s contagious. And I would have to say that attitude, that approach, is definitely in the spirit of the team … His approach to every day, his attitude and work ethic, it pushes everyone else to be better and, again, that’s a big part of who he is.”
Tulley recalled going to winter workouts in the mornings before school and finding Newman there. “He said, ‘I have chemo today,’ ” the coach said. “He wants to be there, he wants to play and doesn’t really care what else is going on.”
Newman is a popular figure among his teammates as well as coaches. “It’s hard not to like Dylan,” said Tulley.
Tulley acknowledged that Newman is one of those athletes he will always remember.
“How you do forget his story?” the coach said. “I mean, forget about the fact that he’s a great kid and the personality that he brings every day, how do you forget the story he’s had? He has persevered, I would say, probably more than any athlete I’ve had.”
Editor’s Note: There was no Sports Person of the year named in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.