Cox’s legacy celebrated at open house
PLYMOUTH — If a coach’s legacy is measured as much by the number of lives he touched as by any records, then Dave Cox’s could be seen Sunday.
The former Plymouth High School girls basketball coach celebrated his recent retirement in an open house at PHS, and past players and their families as well as Plymouth staff turned out in abundance to celebrate his 20-year career at the helm of the Lady Pilgrims.
“I thank Dave for all the things that he’s helped me with over the years,” said PHS girls assistant basketball coach Dave Duncan at the open house.
“We’ve been through a lot of things together — 20 years of coaching clinics, 20 years of building a program, 20 years of kids and families. It’s been a lot of fun.”
“I started going to camps when I was four, so I just really grew up alongside of the Coxes,” said 2009 PHS alum Alex Starr, who recently broke the 1,000-point mark at Purdue University Calumet. “After so many years, the qualities and characteristics that they instilled in me have shown now that I’m maturing into a woman. All the hours I spent in the gym made me into a really hard-working person.”
Cox started out as the freshman coach at PHS but stepped into the head coaching position for the 1992-93 season, in which the Lady Pilgrims finished with a record of 3-14 following their 2-16 campaign in 91-92.
He went on to become the winningest coach in Plymouth High School girl’s basketball history with a career varsity record of 308-152, highlighted by four NLC Championships, nine Class 3A sectional championships, two 3A regional championships, two 3A semistate championships, a class 3A state runner-up finish in 2001, and the program’s lone state championship in 2008.
“The girls program was pretty average at best, and he really turned it around with a lot of hard work and started the summer program,” said PHS Assistant Athletic Director John Scott. “He really respected ideas of other people. If he saw something that he liked, he borrowed it from them and employed it in his girls program. I know he and Jack Edison really talked a lot about different ideas. He borrowed a lot from Jack, not only his ideas, he borrowed Jack for practices sometimes and Jack talked to his girls a couple different times before important games. It’s one thing to borrow ideas, but it’s another to get your girls to do those ideas, and that’s what Dave was really good at. He was able to get his girls to believe in some of those ideas that our boys teams used over the years — the defensive switching and those kinds of things. He got them to do that, and that’s not an easy thing to do.”’
Cox’s track record was one earned through countless hours of work both in-season and in the off-season with summer camps and youth leagues.
“I’ve never seen anybody work as hard as Coach Cox has,” said Duncan. “I was just telling our kids — we played over the weekend here — that the reason this program is where it is is because of Coach Cox and his wife, and all the commitment that they’ve put in the program. And nobody probably understands the hours as well as me because I’ve been right there with them. It’s been a big commitment for his family.”
But to appreciate Cox’s legacy only in terms of his championships and records, you only get half the story, say friends and colleagues.
“I always looked up to Dave Cox and his program as one that I wanted to emulate and a program that I’ve strived to be,” said longtime PHS boys soccer coach and the school’s current girls soccer coach Chuck DeWitt. “One of the most significant things that I ever saw with Dave Cox was after they won the state championship on Saturday night in Indianapolis, the very next morning (his wife) Barb and Dave were in church teaching youth group in Sunday school. That just impressed me beyond belief.”
“Not only a great coach, but a great person on top of that,” said Scott. “Just an easy guy to work with, and I just enjoyed watching his girls play hard on the basketball floor. A lot of times it’s very difficult to get girls to go top speed and go out there and work as hard as they did. I hope he enjoys his retirement, but he’s going to have to come back and help us out every once in awhile.”