It’s 2 p.m. on a Tuesday. With a crucial Mountain West conference match-up against New Mexico looming nearly seven hours away, Colorado State forward Stanton Kidd is sitting courtside at Moby Arena, intently watching the action on the court. He isn’t watching practice, nor one of his teammates shooting around. The redshirt senior from Baltimore is instead watching one of his best allies, CSU women’s basketball point guard A.J. Newton, as she goes through strength and conditioning drills.
After having her knee scoped earlier this season, Newton has been going through rehabilitation treatments a few times per week, with Kidd in attendance to encourage her when he’s able to make it. He doesn’t say too much, but his presence is just enough to give Newton that extra push when she needs it.
“I’m just showing support. She said she was working on some conditioning drills, and I wanted to see how she was doing and how her knee was,” Kidd said. “I wanted to see if she was being timid (with it) or was she really just leaving it all out there. I just wanted to help her out and kind of give her some approval.”
Little did he know, that slight endorsement went a long way in Newton’s mind.
Making a connection
The duo met in the summer of 2013 when both were required to take summer courses after transferring to Colorado State. Kidd was at his third school in four years, previously attending Texas’ South Plains Junior College before transferring to North Carolina Central for one season. Newton came to Fort Collins by way of California’s Foothills College, where she spent a season after leaving San Jose State, where she stayed a year.
Like many of their student-athlete peers, Kidd and Newton were taking summer courses to get ahead in their school work so they could take a lighter class load during their respective seasons. Unlike many of their peers, though, Kidd and Newton were already “grown,” as they like to say. Most of the students in their classes were freshmen, while they were in what would be their third and fourth years, respectively.
“We had classes together and we were both just older redshirts, and when we came here in the summer we were with a whole bunch of freshmen, and it was just weird,” Newton said. “We were both already 21 then and we just kind of clicked off of that.”
After some conversation, they connected on basketball, too. During one of his off-season workouts, Kidd noticed Newton come into the gym, where they struck up a conversation.
“I saw him in the gym one day and I went in there to shoot and he was like, ‘I’ll rebound for you,’ and that’s kind of how it started,” Newton said.
The pair then spent most of that summer together, whether it was in classes, on the court or just getting food during their downtime.
But before the 2013-14 season began, Kidd was required to have surgery, which included putting a steel rod into his leg after suffering a stress fracture. For the first time in his life, Kidd was unable play the sport he loved and faced a long road to recovery.
By his side was his sidekick, constantly pushing and encouraging him as he began to walk, run and eventually participate in practices again.
“When I had my surgery, I didn’t make her come and see me because I didn’t really want to be seen by anybody,” Kidd said. “But in the training room she would come and hang out with me and tell me it would be alright — that I’d get through it and start running again and be fine.”
Unable to travel with the men’s team on the road due to his status as a redshirt following his transfer from North Carolina Central, Kidd instead spent his downtime watching from the stands as Newton and her teammates on the women’s team rolled through Mountain West play to a 25-8 record and the program’s first league title in more than a decade.
“He probably only missed one game the year he sat out. And when he did I was like, ‘How come you weren’t at my game? Like, how could you? Some friend you are,”’ Newton joked.
The time off the court was hard for Kidd, but he points to their budding friendship as a big part of what kept his spirits high during the rehabilitation process.
Little did he know though, the roles would be reversed when Newton faced a similar struggle this season in mid-November when she injured her knee, requiring surgery that would keep her sidelined for nearly two months.
“I was a bit more dramatic (than he was),” Newton admitted about her injury. “I was like, ‘I just got out of surgery, where are you?’ But he came right away after his game and I just talked to him a lot about that kind of stuff. I had this epic senior year planned and then this happened, but he was still really supportive through the whole thing.”
Photos by Abbie Parr
Learning to share
With as much time as the two spend together off the court, most people initially think the two are in a romantic relationship, instead of having the brother-sister bond they share. They can’t count how many times someone has commented about them being a couple, only to find out they are each other’s greatest ally, most important confidant and best friend.
“It’s nice just being able to click that fast with a cool person, but when people see you around with someone, especially a female, people think, ‘Oh they like each other,’” Kidd said. “Of course we got that a million times, but we’re actually just really close friends and ever since (that first summer) we’ve had a really close relationship.”
There is irony however, as it is none other than Newton who set up Kidd with his current girlfriend and one of A.J.’s closest friends, Monique Coble. A little over year ago, Newton posted a picture with her and Monique together, which caught Kidd’s attention.
“I posted a picture of me and her and he was like, ‘A.J. who is that?”’ Newton said. “And I was like, ‘No, Stanton, you’re not contacting her, I’m not going to hook you up.’ And then a couple days later he contacted her himself, but I just put in a good word with Monique and I told her he’s one of my best friends, if he’s trying to get at you at least let him try. It turned out he did more than try. They’re good.”
The two have been dating for nearly a year, visiting each other and spending as much time together as they can when schedules permit.
With Coble living in California and Kidd and Newton living in Fort Collins, she is only able to visit so often, which means having to split time with the two of them, something they’ve learned how to deal with after a little trial and error. It took some time to work out the kinks, especially after the first time the three were together in Fort Collins.
“I came here and A.J.’s like, ‘We’ll have a night with each other together, a girl’s night,’” Coble said. “And Stanton was like, ‘Um, A.J. that’s not the plan, me and her are going to be together the entire time.’ I was kind of in the middle trying to figure out how much time I could spend with each of them, but it’s never like that anymore. We all come together and hang out and it’s never awkward. We’re all just kind of a little family.”
Both Kidd and Newton will admit they were a bit hesitant to give up time with Monique with how little time they are able to spend together.
“Now when she comes out here, finally me and A.J. are learning…”
Kidd pauses with a smile.
“To share her,” Newton blurted out before the two broke out in laughter. “It took us a couple times to learn how to balance it. They’re both my best friends but they do that ‘cupcake’ mushy thing. And I’m just like the third wheel and I’ll just leave. I know when the right time to leave but they’re pretty good about it.”
“A.J. is like ‘I don’t want to be around you two together,’ and I’m just like, ‘A.J., it’s fine,’” Kidd added. “If you want her to come to your house for a day then do it, I’m not going to be mad. I’ll get a chance to see her.”
“They really take care of each other, which is the one thing I was worried about when A.J. came here. I’ve always kind of been the one that watches over her so he kind of does that for her now, and he takes really good care of her, and she takes really good care of him. They’ve got a true brother and sister bond.”
-Monique Coble, Kidd’s girlfriend
Their friendship also helps Kidd when he needs a little sisterly advice about dealing with the woman A.J. considers family.
“It definitely helps knowing that I can go to A.J. for advice or things to do for Monique on holidays and things like that,” he added. “Then I can also go to her for advice like, ‘She’s trippin’ what should I do?’ Or vice versa.”
And though he’s the only about two weeks older than A.J., Kidd plays the “big brother role” and makes sure to check up on his “little sis.”
“He acts older than me, so I feel like he’s kind of like my older brother,” Newton said. “We’ll go out to eat and I’ll take him home, and I live literally around the corner, and he’ll be like, ‘Hey are you home safe?’ And I’m like, ‘Yes, Stanton.’ And when it’s snowing, he’ll tell me to make sure to drive slowly. He’s always checking up on me, making sure that I’m safe.”
Even Coble notices Kidd’s brotherly tendencies when she’s able to spend time around the two.
“They really take care of each other, which is the one thing I was worried about when A.J. came here,” Coble said. “I’ve always kind of been the one that watches over her, so he kind of does that for her now, and he takes really good care of her, and she takes really good care of him. They’ve got a true brother and sister bond.”
When their apartment complex was renovated last summer and Kidd was headed back home to Baltimore, Newton needed a place to stay — and of course Kidd made sure she had a place to go. Though he wasn’t living there at the time, Kidd refused to charge her rent, instead paying for her to live there as long as she needed.
“It lets you know how deep it goes, you know?” Kidd said. “I told A.J. she could just stay in there, didn’t charge her for rent or anything, I’ll pay the rent. She stayed a couple extra days until my apartment got ready and then went back to San Jose. That just shows how good of a relationship it is. I wouldn’t do that for anybody else except my teammates. They’re like my brothers, but as far as a female, I wouldn’t do that for anyone else. It’s like a brother-sister type thing.”
And just like any basketball siblings do, the two spend plenty of time critiquing the others’ game and giving a hard time when it’s necessary.
When asked about whether A.J. critiques his games, Kidd rolls his eyes before taking a big sigh and responding, “Oh yeah, she always critiques my game. “
“I call him the hack master,” Newton jumps in. “You know that stretch where he was fouling and only playing the second half because he just wanted to foul everyone? We can joke about it and he’ll tell me if my shot was a little off, but I know it’s out of love. He knows it’s out of love, too, when I’m like, ‘You only want to play the second half, huh?’”
The future, the unknown
However, despite all of the razzing and jokes, Newton and Kidd realize that their time together at CSU is becoming shorter and shorter by the day. Both graduate this spring, with Newton planning to move on to graduate school at the University of Texas, while Kidd will pursue his lifelong dream of playing professional basketball either here in the United States or overseas.
Kidd’s final destination means he could end up a few hundred miles from Newton should he make an NBA roster or as many as a few thousand depending on where he plays outside the United States. But when posed the question of whether the closeness of their friendship would be able to endure the distance, the two answered the question at almost the exact same time.
The answer was a resounding “yes.”
“There is no ‘being apart,’” Kidd said decisively. “Definitely with me dating Monique and her being her best friend, she’s going to visit A.J. down in Texas while she’s at grad school and when I get some off time, I’ll go see her, too. Basketball could go either way, being in the major leagues or overseas, but when I get time we’re always going to link back up.”
“It’s kind of exciting because I don’t know where he’s going to end up at and I’m pretty set on (the University of) Texas,” Newton immediately added. “I think he could end up anywhere, so I just want to go visit, but I know nothing’s going to change.”
And for anyone who has spent much time around them, that statement is less of an opinion than it is a fact. Their journeys to CSU began nearly 3,000 miles apart, saw them become the closest of friends, and will likely end with them apart again.
But after all, what’s a little distance between these two?
Collegian Sports Editor Keegan Pope can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @ByKeeganPope.