TCU

Former TCU star turned police officer now fighting her biggest battle: a brain tumor

If you’d like to help, here’s a link to buy a #TeamNiki shirt or you can donate money or do both: CLICK HERE

Niki Newton was a 4-time all-state high school basketball player at Crowley from 1998-2001.

She was ranked as the No. 3 high school player in the nation before going to TCU where the Horned Frogs went to the NCAA tournament all four years with her on the team.

“Niki is without a doubt, the most talented player I coached in my 36 years,” said Alan Neff, who coached Newton for one season at Crowley. “She’s very dedicated and focused. She always set goals for the team and for herself, and was an incredible leader. It wasn’t just the Niki Newton show, she made other players better. It’s a crying shame I only got to coach her senior year, but she did an outstanding job and I thank the world I got the opportunity to coach her.”

57485064_415491729281523_450614791736655872_n.jpg
Niki Newton during her TCU playing days 2001-05. Linda Kay Courtesy

Following graduation, where Newton received her Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice, she joined the Arlington Police Academy at the beginning of 2007 and has been with the Arlington Police Department ever since.

She’s battled the best high school and college players in the nation, and fights crime on a daily basis, but now she’s in the biggest battle of her life: fighting a rare and large tumor on her pineal gland in the middle of her brain.

“I started to get constant pressure headaches about a year ago between the eyes and began to exhibit other symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, balance, memory problems and visual problems,” Newton said. “The symptoms continued to increase throughout the months and headaches became so severe that they were causing blackouts and passing out spells.”

The tumor accounts for 0.5-1.6 percent of the different types of brain tumors and is very rare if large, and because of its location, many neurosurgeons will not operate because of the risks associated with the surgery such as paralysis or even death.

“I became so ill that I went to the emergency room in December and they immediately ran a CT and MRI. The test showed that I had a large tumor located on the pineal gland deep in the middle of the brain. This gland is what produces melatonin and modulates sleep patterns,” Newton said. “Also because of the location, a biopsy can’t be done to see if the tumor is cancerous.”

Newton will go down to Houston next month to have surgery. Neurosurgeon, Dr. Dong Kim and his team accepted her case immediately.

If you’d like to help, here’s a link to buy a #TeamNiki shirt or you can donate money or do both: CLICK HERE

Dr. Kim, a world-renowned surgeon, advised Newton that they were confident they could remove the entire tumor and that the tumor isn’t cancerous at the moment.

“I saw her news on Facebook and of course I called her,” said Larry Tidwell, Newton’s head coach at TCU. “She’s first class on and off the court. She brings it everyday and is so determined. She’s going to beat whatever she faces; she has always been a fighter.”

“It was heartbreaking to hear. She’s going through a tough time and our prayers are with her, but she’s a fighter and a competitor,” Neff added.

After surgery, there’s a chance Newton could have temporary visual problems. Blindness is a possibility in one or both eyes. She will remain in the ICU to monitor the brain for swelling and infection.

“Once I’m released from the hospital, recovery will be approximately eight weeks,” she said. “Hopefully after a good report and no bumps in the road, I’ll be able to return back to full duty after getting cleared by my surgeon with no long term effects or symptoms.”

Newton said she would have gone to the doctor a lot sooner than she did, knowing what she knows now, and advises anyone who is experiencing similar symptoms to be proactive.

“Being an athlete all my life, and in good shape, I blew off these symptoms I tried to self-correct the problem not knowing what the real problem was,” she said. “I didn’t listen to my instincts and I was ultimately risking my life by ignoring these symptoms and could have saved months of pain by going to the doctor. If you’re having constant headaches that is out of the ordinary, along with other symptoms that just feel off, make sure you don’t ignore them.”

A STAR ON AND OFF THE COURT

Newton was a 3-time district MVP, freshman of the year and All-American while playing basketball and volleyball at Crowley. While at TCU, the Horned Frogs won conference three times.

“I recruited Niki out of high school and she had incredible work ethic and passion for the game. Wherever I was, I always tried to recruit players like her,” Tidwell said. “Then she went on to become a police officer and first responder and that’s the kind of thing you expect from her. She always wants to help others.

“I coached for more than 40 years and Niki would be in my starting five. She was the ultimate teammate and so genuine and comfortable with you. She goes out of her way and always tries to be the best she can be.”

Newton’s favorite memory at TCU was upsetting Michigan State to win a tournament in Hawaii during her junior season.

“I had grown up watching TCU and they began recruiting me when I was in the seventh grade. They treated my family and I as if we were all family and their support, loyalty and dedication to me was something that I still hold dear to my heart,” Newton said. “Once a Horned Frog, always a Horned Frog.”

57798836_2243685085882709_1268256151191945216_n.jpg
Niki Newton during her TCU playing days 2001-05. Linda Kay Courtesy

When Newton arrived to TCU in 2001, her intentions were to study education and become a coach, but 9/11 changed her life.

Like most other people did that Tuesday morning, Newton and her classmates were glued to the TV, with tears rolling down their cheeks as they watched the World Trade Center collapse, killing thousands.

“That day I decided I wanted to become a police officer. I wanted to be the one rushing into those buildings and saving those people who couldn’t save themselves,” she said. “I felt this overwhelming feeling of compassion, love and respect for every single first responder that puts their life on the line every single day for everyone else except themselves. That was the day I chose to become one of those people that will forever serve others in anyway I can.”

If you’d like to help, here’s a link to buy a #TeamNiki shirt or you can donate money or do both: CLICK HERE

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram

Born and raised in Hawaii, Brian Gosset graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in journalism before coming to Texas in 2014. He’s covered high school sports — yes, pretty much every high school sport — for the Star-Telegram ever since.
  Comments