Fox excited for new opportunities at Tabor College

Mark Fox is the new assistant men’s basketball coach at Tabor College. He has also taken on the role of sports information director and is excited for the opportunity to learn something new. Fox spent the past 11 years coaching the women’s basketball team at Bethel College.Opportunities to learn and grow await Tabor College’s new assistant men’s basketball coach Mark Fox.

That’s because in addition to assisting Bluejay men’s basketball coach Micah Ratzlaff, Fox has taken on the role of sports information director. It’s something he’s never done before but is excited to learn.

Fox has spent the past 11 years coaching the women’s basketball team at KCAC rival Bethel College. Part of the draw in making the 25-mile jaunt north to Tabor was the opportunity to learn something new.

“You can kind of become complacent a little bit, so this was a new opportunity to learn the SID side,” Fox said. “I don’t know if that’ll be a career move or not, but it’s been very exciting, and I’m anxious to learn this side of things.”

History

Fox grew up in Mulvane, Kan., in a family heavily involved in athletics. The son of a basketball coach, he began playing the sport at a young age and got his first taste of coaching when he was 15 or 16 years old.

“I helped my dad (coach) when I wasn’t playing,” Fox said. “That’s kind of where I got the bug for coaching.”

Fox was a multi-sport athlete in high school, and following his graduation from Mulvane, he earned his undergraduate degree in education with minors in math and science from the University of Kansas. He earned his master’s degree from Emporia State with certification in supervision and curriculum.

Fox served as a classroom teacher for 13 years, primarily at the middle school level. He has coached both baseball and basketball and has high school coaching experience at Newton, Jefferson West and Halstead.

During the time Fox served as an assistant at Newton, the team went to the state tournament twice. Later, in his second year as head coach at Jefferson West, Fox guided his team to the school’s first-ever state tournament appearance. At Halstead, Fox’s team won a state title.

Fox then transitioned to the collegiate level, accepting a position as an assistant coach and admissions counselor at Newman University.

“I went to Newman and was there for four years and just absolutely loved it,” Fox said. “Looking back on it, honestly, I think God placed me there to learn how to recruit. Specifically at that time, a lot of my clientele was high school girls, and ironically, four years later, I end up being the women’s coach at Bethel. I think God had a plan there.”

In accepting the Bethel job, Fox had the opportunity to coach a women’s team for the first time.

“It was a learning experience, and a good one too,” he said. “It definitely got me out of my comfort zone.”

In his 11 years with the Threshers, Fox coached three NAIA All-Americans and twice tied Bethel’s record for number of wins.

Fox said the relationships built were a highlight for him.

“I will miss those girls, the graduates and even the girls that are on the team this year,” he said. “Those kids are special. They become your daughters. These guys (at Tabor) will become our sons. I think if you’re doing things right, it’s an extended family.”

New chapter

Now, Fox has turned the page and returned to coaching men’s sports. He joins a Tabor program fresh off a record-setting year in which the Bluejays never lost a conference game. Tabor achieved a school-record 30 wins and ranked as high as sixth nationally.

Fox said he looks forward to coming to Tabor for a couple of reasons.

“They’re not shy about their Christian faith,” he said, adding: “This is a place that values their student-athletes (and) their athletic programs.”

When asked to describe his coaching style, Fox said he is very competitive and holds intense practices.

“I want our kids to do things well, do it right, so the game becomes comfortable for them,” he said. “During games, I’m not Phil Jackson calm, where you can just sit there, but I’m also not Bobby Knight, so somewhere in between. But it’s going to be different. As an assistant coach, my job is to just make sure everything’s right for Micah. My job’s going to be in practice helping him and getting those kids to perform at their best.”

Fox’s goals at Tabor are two-fold:

“My whole role is, 1. Don’t mess things up for Micah because he’s had a pretty good run,” he said. “I’m not egotistical enough to think I can’t learn from him as well, even though I’ve probably been coaching as long as he’s been alive. He’s been very successful. And then, 2. From the SID side, is make things as good and as easy for the coaches on our staff as possible (and) do whatever we can to help them promote their programs.”

Fox and his wife, Susan, celebrated 23 years of marriage this month and have three sons, including a college sophomore, a high school junior, and an 8-year-old.

The opportunity to learn something new is what excites him most about the opportunity in front of him.

“Again, I think it’s just the chance to grow, to learn something new (and) to face some new challenges, which at my age, you don’t always get,” he said. “That’s kind of exciting.”

Tags from the story
Written By
More from Janae Rempel
KCAC Champions of Character feted
The Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference has announced its Champions of Character for...
Read More