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Decorated Buc standout to play for Webber

Kortney Newton signed a partial scholarship to play volleyball at Webber International on Wednesday morning, not only making her family proud, but proving Gulf coach Shari Schau correct.

A multisport athlete doesn't have to sacrifice several sports, the coach said, to earn a scholarship in one. Newton, who will graduate with 14 athletic letters this spring, is proof an athlete can do it all and still be rewarded.

"She's a great example of somebody that has enjoyed her high school career and had a lot of fun playing various sports," Schau said. "She's proved that you can still get an athletic scholarship and enjoy every sport that you possibly can at the high school level."

And at Gulf, Newton has participated in as many sports as possible: volleyball, basketball, weightlifting and, during her first two years, track and field.

"It's just something I love to do," Newton said. "I enjoy keeping myself busy, and I love sports."

But volleyball is her true love.

"I guess my sophomore year, I started to get confidence and I realized volleyball is my sport," she said. "It's what I enjoyed the most."

For four years, she has been the Buccaneers' mainstay at setter, earning a promotion to the varsity after three junior varsity matches during her freshman season.

"I can't say enough about the kid," Schau said. "She's had people tell her she's too small, but she has done everything we could have asked of her.

"She has improved her vertical jump. She has improved her strength in the weight room. She has improved her speed. She has done a fantastic job. I'm looking for another setter, and it's not going to be easy. It's not going to be easy at all."

The 5-foot-4 Newton is the third Gulf volleyball player to earn a scholarship, joining Laura O'Brien in 1999 and Belinda Hatch in 2001.

Newton set school career records in assists (818), serve attempts (679), serves in (499) and aces (128) and, as a senior, set season records for assists (305) and aces (42). She is second with 327 career points, four behind O'Brien.

"Kortney works very hard on the court," said Webber coach Laura Kinder, who attended Wednesday's signing. "She's a very aggressive player. She has good hands. She's going to make a good player for us."

Newton is the daughter of Gulf football coach Keith Newton and his wife, Deedee, who celebrated the signing with cake afterward. Their daughter also will use academic scholarships, including the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program, to help pay her tuition at Webber, located in Babson Park near Lake Wales.

"I really like the coach, and the players were really friendly to me," Kortney Newton said. "They made me feel at home. It's a small campus, but it's a really nice campus. I can see myself there."

She said she will appreciate her new schedule there, too.

"Playing one sport," Newton said, "it will make my life a lot easier."