Coming to Belmont after spending time at storied programs such as Georgia and Louisville, Cameron Newbauer is starting a new journey as the head coach for the women’s basketball team.
Here, staff writer Courtney Martinez sits down with “Coach Cam” to chat about his background, first season as a head coach and what he hopes to bring to the women’s program at Belmont.
Could you start off giving us a little background information about yourself?
My name is Cameron Michael Newbauer. This is my only seventh year coaching women’s basketball. My first six years I was on the men’s side. I coached at Louisville last year and then at the University of Georgia five years before that. This is my first heading coaching job, and I couldn’t be more excited. Thankful to be at a school like Belmont with everything it stands for, the campus, community and athletic department. I’m thrilled this is my first head coaching because it is such a special place.
How did you get started playing basketball and coaching?
I grew up playing as a kid. I’m from Indiana, and in the state of Indiana a lot of people play basketball. It was in my family and I started playing. I had a really strong coach who influenced me a lot. Because of my relationship with him, it kind of pushed me to want to coach. I want to try to influence kids in the same way. When I was in college, I knew I wanted to coach and pursue that path.
What were you able to learn under Hall of Fame coach Andy Landers during your time at Georgia?
Andy Landers. He called this morning to see how I was doing, and he’s like a best friend. To have the opportunity to spend five years under one of the best coaches in women’s basketball ever, it was a blessing. Learning how to communicate effectively with the girls (since I was coming from the men’s side), you have to treat them differently and not bark at them as much. I just really learned how to communicate effectively with the ladies on the court. I learned a lot of strategies and details of the game, a lot about scouting and just how to run a program. He is one of the best in the business and to have had that opportunity, I tried to learn as much as I could. I still have the relationship with him where I can call and pick his brain. He helps me and calls me out of the blue sometimes to give me ideas. It was a smart move on my part to join his staff when I had the opportunity.
What is going to be like for you when Belmont faces Georgia in December?
It is going to be a lot of fun since I recruited some of those players. I still have connections with those players and families, the staff. It’s going to be a major challenge for us obviously because they’re Georgia, a top-five program of all-time. It’s one we are going to embrace and are really excited about. But it will be a lot of fun personally.
Last year was one of the best years for the Louisville women’s basketball program. What was that like being a part of something special like that?
Surreal. We were part of the biggest upset ever in women’s basketball history. Surreal to beat Baylor, and then to win three more games and go to the national championship game. It was a lot of fun. It was a great experience, and I learned a lot from Coach Walls, another future hall of famer. I have been blessed to work under two hall of fame coaches. I learned game strategies and a little bit of fearlessness. Coach is fearless, and the players we had played were fearless. As long as your players believe, they can do the unthinkable. You try to instill the confidence and belief, and sometimes they take it even further than you might think you can go as a coach. That’s what happened to us last year. Nobody thought we could beat Baylor, but our players believed they could. That’s why we beat them.
How did you know Belmont was the right fit for your first head coaching job?
First time I came down and met with the administration, saw the campus and met people. I called my wife and told her that she was going to fall in love with the place and that it was only a matter of minutes when she meets somebody around here to see how special the people really are. How much they genuinely care about the university, athletics and students. It didn’t take long at all.
One of the people that has helped make Belmont, and the women’s basketball program at Belmont special is Betty Wiseman. How have you developed a relationship with her?
I like to call her lead council for myself and the program because Betty has done it all. She is Belmont through and through. To be able to call her and get her infinite wisdom and any idea she has, it’s been great. She is fantastic with our players, and for me personally, just to be able to call her and talk to her is nice. She can put me at ease and help talk me through things and give me ideas. Betty Wiseman was a Godsend to this campus, and I’m so thankfully I’ve gotten to know her so well already.
With Coach Rick Byrd right next to your door, how much do you hope to learn from him as well?
Talking about another hall of famer. There’s not a day where he hasn’t walked into my office and asked me how I’m doing and if I need anything. He’s incredible person and coach. He has been so thoughtful with helping me. I went into his office and asked if he’s got a second, and he’ll sit down and talk with me. I can bounce ideas off of him. Having a coach who has done this for 28 years and been extremely successful here at Belmont, it is another Godsend into my life and program. He truly is about Belmont and doing all he can to help all of Belmont thrive. So very thankfully he looks out for me, my family, and our program.
How has the transition been to Nashville for you and your wife Sarah?
It’s been incredible. We love to eat out. There hasn’t been a night where we have had a hard time finding somewhere to eat or something to do. Constantly meeting new people that touch campus and Nashville and make us more passionate. So many people have played a large part into creating Belmont into what it is today. We are just thankful to have the chance to be a part of this community and hopefully do the same. Give back and make Belmont better than what it is, if that’s possible. We’re excited and love being here. It’s awesome.
What expectations do you have for yourself going into the season?
It’s funny, my expectation for myself is just to focus on getting better every day. Try not to focus on wins and losses because when you focus on end results, sometimes you don’t enjoy the successes and failures along the way during the process. What I stress to our players is what I try to live, and trying to live that if you have the right attitude and effort every single day, focus on each day at a time and getting better, good things are going to happen.
I have expectations down the road but I try not to think about those because I can’t control three, four or five months. I can only control today. I know it sounds cliche to say some of that but I’m just working on having the best practice we can today and helping our young people develop on and off the court the best way they can. Grow each day as a player, as a person, and have the best attitude and effort possible.
You’re not known as Coach Newbauer, but “Coach Cam.” How would YOU define “Coach Cam?”
You know I’m an energetic, passionate, outgoing person, sometimes goofy and I like to have a lot of fun. That’s the way I want our program to be. I want us to be laid-back and have fun. We work really hard but at the same time I want us to have a lot of fun. I don’t mind if our players call me Cam, Cameron, Coach Cam. Simple easiness is what I try to be. I stay true to who I am and not doing anything different than what I have done my whole life. Being passionate about basketball and having fun. So Coach Cam to me is just who I am. Some of the players call me Cam, and it doesn’t bother me at all. It’s their program. I’m here for them and Belmont. It’s not about me, it’s about our players, and trying to help them find their greatness on and off the court. That is what Coach Cam is. Fun-loving, energetic, ball of energy hopefully. Some people say obnoxious but I prefer energetic.