If Collinus Newsome’s daughters want proof of how strong Mom was back in the day, all they have to do is reach out to any Illini football player from the mid- to late-'90s.
“I loved being in the weight room — the football weight room was the absolute best," says the six-time Big Ten champion shot putter. "And being that I was stronger than most of the guys, I really loved going in there and showing off.
"I am pretty weak now, according to my three daughters, who take me out when my guard is down."
Another favorite spot of the education director at the Denver Foundation, a Colorado nonprofit: the Six Pack.
"I cannot speak of the things that took place there," Newsome says, "but some of my best buds — almost 20 years later — lived in the Six Pack.
“As a student-athlete, living in the Pack put you in close proximity with other athletes. I loved the shared experience. I also loved my time on the track team and we still support and love on each other. The girls I had the privilege of getting to know have become incredible and remarkable women.
“I remember being Tonja Buford-Bailey’s go-to babysitter when she had her son. I have no idea why she trusted me but I loved on that little one, who is not so little now.
“The U of I shaped and molded me in ways I didn’t appreciate then but looking back on it now, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life.”