Players graduate. One year rolls into the next. But Ms. Newcomb is always there, season after season, with a smile and a “Welcome, good to see you!”
Baseball games. Softball games. Women’s soccer. Men’s soccer. Women’s basketball. At men’s basketball games at the Greensboro Coliseum, she greets the players and the media at their entrance. She notes that the Spartan men’s basketball players give her a hug at every game.
“I’m 90,” she tells us. She has been welcoming fans and helping tend the gate for about 20 years.
Lynn Clark, her daughter, joined her at the entrance for a recent UNCG Softball game – and listened as her mother reminisced about her playing days in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. In between her mom greeting fans, that is.
Newcomb grew up in the mill town of Roxboro, North Carolina. When the New York Yankees were on the radio, her father would tell her, “Skeeter, it’s baseball time!”
Enos Slaughter and his brother Sam Slaughter grew up close by. They were both great players, she remembers – Enos was a Hall of Famer.
Her father took care of the community ball field in their part of Roxboro and ran the concession stand. And Ms. Newcomb developed a passion for sports.
“I love sports,” she says. In addition to softball, she played six-on-six basketball.
She tried out for infield positions in softball, then tried centerfield. “Centerfield was my spot.”
She played for Roxboro High School – and continued playing on a community team after that, taking on softball teams from other communities.
“We went all over. We had fun,” she says.
On her recent 90th birthday, members of the UNCG Athletics department surprised her at home with Spartan goodies. (Her daughter was in on the surprise.) Softball Coach Janelle Breneman joined Jarrett Rice, Phil Strobel and Dennis Jansen in Facilities & Game Operations in the fun visit.
Only a few more home games remain this year for UNCG Athletics. The baseball team hosts Winthrop May 14 and then Wofford May 16-18. Admission is free.
Juanita Newcomb will be there at the front gate, welcoming fans. And she’ll be at the UNCG Soccer Stadium entrance in August, welcoming fans to the games to we start another Spartan season.
When you see her, give her a big Hello.
By Mike Harris
Photo at recent UNCG Softball game of Juanita Newcomb with her daughter, Lynn Clark.