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10 Years of SIMA: Jabari Newton

By SIMA, 09/30/23, 9:30AM EDT


Read about SIMA Class of 2015's, Jabari Newton and his experience as a day student with the SIMA Program! 


As part of our 10 Year Celebration, we will be doing a feature article on a SIMA Alumnus from each graduating SIMA class to show the many different pathways that have been taken through the SIMA program. We now move into our second year in the program! 


Familiar Surroundings

Montverde Academy is home to not just many international boarding students but has amassed numerous local Day Students from all around the Greater Orlando Area. From Windermere to Apopka to Ocoee to finally settling in Oakland, Florida, Jabari Newton has been a part of Montverde Academy since he was in the 2nd grade! As a true local player, Jabari began playing in the club ranks out in Apopka for a local club and began to fall in love with the sport. When he saw how much his love for the game grew, he began to let a competitive desire make him strive for more. From U12- U16, Jabari played for some of the most prestigious clubs in the Orlando area and saw where soccer could one day eventually take him. As his experience grew, so did his desire to progress to the next stage of his development and as chance would have it Montverde Academy had just introduced the SIMA Program. 

New Beginning in a Familiar Place

Arriving in the beginning stages of SIMA, when Montverde Academy only had a High School Varsity team, Jabari began to see where he was, while being a familiar place, was a whole new experience. He remembers and especially respects the commitment from his parents to help him arrive for the early morning training sessions. In the end, it was all worth it as he saw that high level football and a strong academic focus was the combination that he needed to make the jump to the next level. "My parents and the whole staff harped on the education" stated Newton.  "Being in the program made me realize that this could open the doors for my education."  As his senior year approached, Jabari was named a first team Winter All-American as a defender and after two years in the program, the doors opened for college soccer.

Decisions, Decisions

Decision day came rolling around. Jabari looked at what was best for his development. He looked for a place where he could feel important straight away and work with a coaching staff that he liked. With all that being taken into account, he chose a young University of Memphis team to begin his collegiate career. In his first year, the defender started in 11 out of 13 matches as a true Freshman for the Memphis Tigers before being sidelined by injury in the last four matches of the season. Going into his sophomore season with the Tigers, his injury lingered but was still able to play 12 matches, playing the full 90' in 9 of them. In both years, Jabari proved that he was just as good on the field as he was off by making the Dean's List (3.0 and above). As the season came to an end in December of 2016, Jabari felt as he did before when moving from the club environment to the SIMA program, it was time to make a change that would challenge him. In the beginning of the 2017 as Spring season rolled in and following some alumni such as Benji Michel and Esteban Calvo, Newton joined the West Coast Conference winning University of Portland Pilots.


At the University of Portland, in his first year the defender made 5 starts in 11 appearances until he was sidelined by injury before the Pilot's 2018 NCAA Tournament run. In his second season, he recorded his first collegiate assist and started in 5 of his 12 appearances. He remembers his stay in the West Coast as a great one. As his collegiate career came to end and all was said and done -being the son of a lawyer- Jabari received a B.A in Political Sciences from the University of Portland. While his pathway in education had taken another step... he felt that there was still more to do with soccer.   

Pathways Cross

In January 2020, Jabari found himself still looking to continue playing the game he loved. Through contacts, he trialed with some professional clubs in the States. While he impressed nothing came of interest  and the defender eventually received a call to trial for a Sweden Division 2 side. Just as he was having a positive trial run with the club, the COVID pandemic brought everything to a screeching halt and Jabari returned back home to the US. Now on standby, he found himself torn. He wanted to play the game he loved but knew the path that he had to take. Following in the footsteps of his father, Jabari began to look into law school and used the newly found time in his life to study for the LSATs.  

Jabari Newton, J.D

Currently, Jabari is attending Law School at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and is in his last year. He is the 2022/23 Advocate General UIC Law BLSA, whose goal is to articulate and promote the professional needs and goals of the African American student body. He is also the 2022/23 Vice President of Sports and Entertainment Law Society which strives to bring together interested students and professionals in the entertainment and sports industries and he is also a 2022/23 2L Class Representative. 

Closing Statements from the Future Lawyer

Jabari accredits the SIMA program with many elements that he takes with him to this this. "The SIMA Program taught me discipline which to me has is a  key factor to my success and just success in general." He also states that the SIMA Program taught him how to persevere and be committed to til the end which helped him reinforce his mentality not just on the field but now in his new journey. 


"A piece of advice that I would like to give the current and future SIMA Players is to enjoy the moment because some of the people that you will meet there will be with you forever." He also encourages everyone to work hard and to not take the opportunity for granted.