Hanging up his whistle
Fruita's Fox resigning from coaching basketball
Dave Fox has always loved game days.
So it came as a surprise to him that when he woke up on game days this season, he wasn’t all that jazzed.
“The funnest part of basketball coaching for me was game day and I don’t know whether it was the pressure I put on myself or whatever, when it was game day, I dreaded the day,” Fox said Tuesday after announcing his resignation as the boys basketball coach at Fruita Monument High School.
He loved every minute he spent with the group that won its third straight Southwestern League title, going 29-1 over the past three seasons, but something was missing.
“I was OK after the game started, but it was just getting to me,” he said. “I don’t know what it is, if expectations were too high, but I was miserable during the day. Something was just not quite right there.”
Just like when he got out of coaching baseball (1990-98) and girls basketball (1985-92) — he won state titles in both — Fox just knew it was time.
“The one thing I’ve always been able to know is when the time is right,” he said. “I got out of coaching the girls because I wanted to go watch my son (Andy) play. When baseball came around, I just knew.
“I just feel like it’s the right time for me. It’s kind of like Pat Riley said, sometimes they need a new voice and I think it’s time for a new voice. I’ve enjoyed being around some great, great kids.”
Fox, 58, hasn’t decided if he’ll retire from teaching (biology and anatomy) this year, and still hopes to coach the boys golf team next fall. But for now, he’s going to enjoy some time with his family.
His daughter, Angela, is getting married this summer, and making sure that’s a memorable day is high on his list of priorities.
And there’s his own golf game to consider, something that’s taken a hit because of the time coaches spend at summer camps. Some traveling with his wife, Cheryl, is an option.
“I’m going to enjoy having a June,” he said.
Fox moved to Grand Junction from Shiprock, N.M., in 1981, and coached at Fruita Middle School.
“That ninth-grade year was one of those years,” he said. “I had Shannon Albright and Billy Dreher and we averaged about 85 points a game. Then the girls job opened up at Fruita. I had never coached girls basketball but I had watched the girls at Fruita Middle School and I jumped on that job.”
Four years into his girls coaching career, he had a state title.
He’s also been an assistant football coach for the Wildcats, and as the head baseball coach, the Wildcats won the 1993 state championship.
He was an assistant on the boys basketball staff when Tom Burns resigned, and he took over as head coach in 2006.
He compiled a 217-82 basketball coaching record, 130-28 with the girls and 87-54 with the boys.
“We had the best of a lot of worlds,” he said of the athletes he coached at Fruita. “We had some tough kids from the Fruita side, kids with a lot of talent.
“Working with those kids in baseball and basketball made me realize really how valuable these kids are to their community and what they mean to the school itself.”
He worked with several assistant coaches over the years and always seemed to find the right mesh.
Having his son on the bench with him has been special. Andy Fox grew up on the sidelines, always at his father’s side during the girls games in the dugout at baseball games.
“I’ve had great coaches with me; I can’t begin to thank all the guys I’ve coached with. I’ve always asked for loyalty and I’ve had some of the most loyal guys. I really appreciate and love what they’ve done with me and they really bought into what we did,” Fox said.
“We pushed our kids hard, they were going to be fundamentally strong, be good defensively in baseball, basketball or football.
“Having Mike McDermott and Denny Squibb as (athletic directors), I really appreciated all of our administrators. People out there at Fruita believe in the athletic part of it.”
You can hear the pride in his voice when he talks about this final group of players.
“This group of kids accomplished something incredible,” he said. “I would have liked to go another step in the playoffs but it wasn’t meant to be. I can’t say enough about the kids I had the last three years.”
But, he said, everyone is replaceable.
“When you look back on these things, we’re all replaceable,” he said. “That’s one thing I understand, there will be somebody else and some will forget and don’t know what you’ve done, and that’s OK.”