The multi-faceted Celia Newman works as a student athlete development consultant, directs Elite Level Prep, founded a semi-pro basketball league for women and co-founded Up Next Sports Consulting, a company that helps athletes with branding, marketing and event planning. (Courtesy photo)

by Liaudwin Seaberry Jr. —

Typically, an individual overseeing three organizations would be booked and busy all of the time. 

Memphian Celia Newman is no exception to that scenario. Despite the everyday grind of being an entrepreneur, Newman finds a way to bring out the best in every situation.

Newman works as a student athlete development consultant at Arlington High School, but that certainly fails to cover the range of people that she affects daily.

In addition, she directs Elite Level Prep, a personal, academics and athletics development program established to benefit student athletes at all levels.

Newman also is the founder of She Got Game League, a semi-pro basketball league for women. 

Lastly, Newman co-founded Up Next Sports Consulting, a company that helps athletes with branding, marketing and event planning.

“I call these three my babies,” Newman said. “I put a lot of hard work into them and I am happy everything is paying off now.”

Newman, however, recalls a time when all three of her “babies” experienced a difficult time getting her organizations off the ground. Elite Level Prep, which she established in 2015, took while to gain attention from schools around the city.

The program began to reap success when Newman started to supply her consulting services to summer basketball camps around the Bluff City.

“I knew that the basketball would get the kids in the door and that it was up to me to get their attention from there when it came to academics,” she said. “I even hosted some free camps to get my idea and brand out there.”

Newman’s persistence paid off in a major way when Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering, a charter school, brought her in to help student-athletes with their schoolwork and ACT Prep. 

Newman was recruited to Arlington High School in 2020, where she serves as an assistant coach under Lady Tigers head coach and hoops legend Ashley Shields. 

In addition, she teaches at Arlington on Wednesdays and takes pride in educating students in the classroom and on the basketball court. Her impact made a huge difference on the ACT scores of several Arlington players.

“Before Coach Newman, the ACT Prep at Arlington High School was not very good,” Carmen Taylor, one of Arlington’s star players, said. “My score increased tremendously and I appreciate the amount of work she’s put in to help us.”

Charmen Taylor, Carmen’s sister and another one of Arlington’s standout players, also raved at Newman’s teaching skills, both on and off the court.

“She helped us out both on and off the court and made sure we knew what we were doing in and out of the classroom,” Charmen Taylor said.

Tennessee Day Academy boy’s basketball head coach Brandon Branch raved on the impact Newman had on his program academically.

“For the players that bought into her program, she was exactly what we needed,” Branch said. “She helped my players improve on their ACT scores and taught them crucial resume-building skills.”

Newman’s second organization, She Got Game League, sprung to life in February 2019. It is based on her experiences on recreational courts in Memphis and her desire to create a league of her own.

Similar to Elite Prep, it took a while to grow and gain traction around Memphis, known as a hotbed for basketball, but not as much on the women’s hoops scene.

To pitch her new league, Newman scoured different pick-up courts around the city for talent and ran into Shields during the process.

“I was excited about her idea of establishing a new league because there are so many talented women in Memphis who were eager to play,” Shields said.

Newman remembers her league going from having little interest to suddenly being on the radar overnight after her talk with Shields.

“I went from having almost no players at all to signing up to around 50 the next day,” Newman. “I am not sure what message Ashley (Shields) sent out, but it worked and I appreciate her for doing that.”

The league has grown over the last two years, with 10 teams now competing for the chance to be champions at the conclusion of the season.

In addition, She Got Game expanded to Chicago, something Newman certainly did not foresee, but she’s grateful for it all.

“I did not realize the impact that She Got Game would have, but I am happy at the growth of the league and I look forward to it spreading out to even more cities,” Newman said.

Newman’s final organization, Up Next Sports Consulting, took off in 2018. She established the organization with fellow entrepreneur Christian Ross-Francis. 

The company focuses on marketing athletes, giving them the ability to magnify their brand. Newman and Ross-Francis built the company from the ground up, gaining the attention of players around the nation.

Kyree Walker, a five-star basketball recruit, signed with Up Next Sports Consulting, which Newman views as a monumental decision.

“I think with Kyree choosing to sign with us shows the hard work that we put into this organization, and I am proud to continue expanding our growth,” Newman said.

Newman’s projects keep her busy, but she’s determined to provide the best that she can for her and her one-year son, Omari.

“Throughout everything, I have kept working hard and I am happy to say things are falling into place,” Newman said. “It took a lot of work behind the scenes for it all to work, but I am happy and blessed to say it has.”