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Coach Gets Painful Perspective Lesson : Basketball: Antelope Valley College’s Chelette recovering after brief stay in hospital.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

With heart-monitoring wires running to and from his body, it hit Newton Chelette.

He might never see his daughter play basketball again.

Lying flat in a hospital bed last week because of chest pains, Chelette also came to other realizations.

He might never coach another men’s basketball game for Antelope Valley College. He might not ever get out of bed again.

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“It’s pretty scary when your chest feels like it’s going to explode and you don’t know what it is,” said Chelette, 44, who spent 1 1/2 days in the hospital after chest pains struck him at shortly after midnight on Jan. 13. “It’s pretty amazing how little things become important.

“Somehow things get put in their place and put in perspective.”

Basketball has played an enormous role in Chelette’s life.

A native of Louisiana, he played at McNeese State in his home state and has since coached in varying capacities for Westlake High, Southeastern Louisiana and as a volunteer assistant at Nevada Las Vegas. Chelette has led Antelope Valley to three Foothill Conference championships in six seasons.

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When he’s not coaching, Chelette referees college and high school basketball games. “I know that I have to cut back on things,” Chelette said. “The rest of the time I’m doing something with basketball, either practicing, watching, scouting, recruiting or refereeing.”

Chelette is undergoing tests this week to determine the cause of the pains. He plans to continue coaching, but scouting and recruiting will be picked up by his assistants. He also might cut back on attending local high school games.

However, he will continue refereeing as long as doctors allow him to.

“Everybody says the refereeing is so stressful. Not really,” said Chelette, who officiates NAIA and NCAA Division II games every week.

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“It’s good physical exercise. It relieves some of the stress. “If I (weren’t refereeing), I’d be watching videotape or worrying about the game.

“Seems to me like that would be a lot more stressful.”

Chelette’s players felt some stress of their own during a game against Chaffey last Saturday. Chelette was released from the hospital five hours before tip-off and watched the game quietly from the bench.

“I wasn’t even thinking about the game,” standout guard Orville Turner said. “I think I speak for all of us when I say that.”

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Said Chelette, who is beginning to realize that life is a bigger game than basketball:

“The man upstairs has a reason for everything. We just have to go with the flow.”


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