AVC Basketball Court Now “Chelette Court”

Posted: May 19, 2016 in AVC Men's Basketball, AVC Men's BB 2016-17, Gym Renovation


imageIts been 60 years since that good old AVC basketball court has seen an upgrade.  Some people would say its way past time for a upgrade.  Others would say just being cost-effective.  Finally some will whine that all sports at colleges are evil. 

In several weeks AVC will start a renovation of the “old girl” who has seen so many wins and has been the starting place for hundreds of college scholarships and professional contracts.  The major change will be the installation of a state of the art basketball floor.  The rest of the changes will be generally cosmetic in nature.  The new score boards were already installed.

AVC basketball teams will not have their beloved gym for workout and down the line practices for an unknown period of time starting in several weeks.  I believe AVC has worked out an agreement that AVC will use the University of Antelope Valley’s facility until the work is complete. 

Finally, the new and improved basketball facility will be named after Newton Chelette who will be retiring after 27 years in multiple positions.  Here is an article from the AV Press on the long history of Chellete and Basketball.   

AVC names court after Chelette

There’s a section of wall in Marauder Gym that should be considered for California historical site designation.

On May 17, 1989, a sharply dressed gentleman was leaning against that wall as the local commentariat approached.

"Are you the new head basketball coach at Antelope Valley College?" he was asked.

Newton Chelette was too modest.

He wasn’t just the new Marauders basketball coach.

He was a visionary.

A basketball revolutionary.

Chelette oversaw a tectonic shift in Marauder Athletics.

Nothing less than a cultural transformation was in the works that day 27 years ago next Tuesday.

The shifting of the ground, literally, will now forevermore be noted on a brand new floor that will bear Chelette’s name.

Our judicial court system should only be the land of fairness, opportunity, accountability and inspiration that Newton Chelette Court has been for 27 years.

The Antelope Valley Community College District Board of Trustees agreed at their May meeting.

They voted to honor Chelette, who retires at the end of June, by naming the soon-to-be-installed basketball and volleyball floor "Newton Chelette Court."

For me, the next move is designate "Coach Chelette Wall."

We’ve all leaned on it for entertainment, community pride and unity, and national basketball significance

The Berlin Wall was about to fall, and the Marauder monolith was about to rise, in 1989.

Less than a month into his tenure, Chelette was holding an impromptu press conference at The Forum during the 1989 NBA Finals.

See, he had recruited and coached Detroit Pistons guard Joe Dumars, who was on his way to NBA Finals MVP honors, at McNeese State in Louisiana.

Coach had also recruited Karl Malone out of Summerfield, Louisiana.

Suddenly, big-time basketball wasn’t some third-person concept off in the distance.

Not when a former Marauder, Isaiah "J.R." Rider, led the NCAA in scoring at UNLV, was an NBA Draft Lottery pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves, won the All-Star Slamdunk championship and won an NBA world championship ring with the Lakers in 2001.

Antelope Valley College had not been to the State Final Four in 33 years when Chelette took the Marauders to the 1997 state tournament.

The Marauders have been back three times since then.

Newton Chelette figured, and looked, to be going places that day we posted him up on a pin down to Coach Chelette Wall 27 years ago next Tuesday.

Everyone knew he had connections with basketball Hall of Famer Jerry Tarkanian at UNLV. Heck, nothing less than Sports Illustrated noted how "AVC was becoming UNAV" when Rider, Dedan Thomas and David Griffin enrolled in Las Vegas in 1991.

Truth be told?

Chelette envisioned a touch-and-go the Right Stuff Brotherhood would have admired that day in 1989.

But that was before he met you, Marauder Nation.

Newton Chelette is a gifted professional who didn’t sell his soul in pursuit of basketball cash and glory.

He’s done a hell of a lot more for the people around him than for himself these last 27 years.

The most tangible proof?

That Division I-caliber athletics complex outside his office.

Chelette spearheaded the bond issue that made it possible.

We’re coming up on the 16th anniversary of the greatest Chelette anecdote of them all.

That was the day a courier from an Israeli League team came calling with a contract that included high six figures, a villa on the Mediterranean and a limo (armor-plated, of course) and chauffeur on 24-hour call.

One of his former players had recommended him for the job.

But Chelette’s son, Brady, was about to enroll at AVC.

"It’s been my lifelong dream to coach my son," Newton told the Israeli League bazillionaire owner. "I’m flattered, but I can’t."

So a few days later, ANOTHER courier from the Middle East arrived.

He also bore a contract. This time, the salary line was left empty.

"How much will it take for me to get you to coach my team?" asked the Israeli owner.

Newton could have asked for millions.

But coaching Brady was priceless.

"I wish you would quit telling people that story," Chelette said the other day. "I’ve already got enough people who think I’m crazy."

You mean crazy for Antelope Valley College, Coach.

It says so right there on the floor.

Brian Golden




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