Tom Cox, whose career as a high school head football coach began at Mount Vernon in the 1980s, will be the Mountaineers’ head coach this fall. His hiring was approved by the board of education on Thursday night.
“I’ve always missed it,” said Cox, who hasn’t been a head football coach since 1990. “I really had no intention of becoming a head coach again, but when this opportunity came open, I just realized I still had a desire to head this program up.”
Cox succeeds Ozzie Riley, who was 6-14 as the Mountaineers’ head coach the last two seasons.
Cox’s coaching resume this school year is interesting to say the least. He was an assistant for Riley last fall, then seventh-grade boys basketball coach at Springfield Catholic last winter. This spring he is an assistant baseball coach at Mount Vernon.
He applied for the football job at Springfield Catholic but withdrew his name after the Mountaineer position became vacant.
“Our house is two minutes from the brand new football stadium (at Mount Vernon),” Cox said. “I left Mount Vernon once, and I did not want to leave again. I want to be a Mountaineer.”
Cox, former all-conference defensive back at Missouri Southern, returned to his alma mater — John F. Kennedy High School in Manchester (west St. Louis) — his first year after college. He and his wife, Cindi, were married in 1979, and they moved to Mount Vernon so she could finish her degree at Missouri Southern.
“I took the job at Mount Vernon and thought maybe I’d be one year here,” Tom said. “We ended up staying eight years.”
Cox was an assistant for two years under Terry Moore, the father of Missouri Southern head athletic trainer Darin Moore. Cox became head coach in 1981, and the next year he guided the Mountaineers to the Class 2A championship game where they lost to St. Genevieve Valle 37-0 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
Cox left Mount Vernon to become head football coach at Webb City in 1987, and one year later he began a three-year stint as head coach at Ozark. The Cardinals went 6-4 under Cox and started several sophomores who were seniors on the Cardinals’ first state championship team under Jerry Kill in 1989.
“I enjoyed my time at Webb City,” said Cox, who has a 68-36 record in 10 years as a head coach. “I had no intention of leaving there, but Ozark made an offer and I couldn’t turn it down. Cindi’s family is from the Springfield area, and we had an opportunity to go. We loved it at Ozark as well.”
Cox returned to Mount Vernon in 1991 when the American Family Insurance agency opened. In addition to his insurance work, he helped on radio broadcasts and helped with junior high football before becoming a high school assistant two years ago.
In addition to coaching football, Cox will be in charge of the school’s weight training classes in grades 7 through 12. He also will work with the Mighty Mite program. He’s been the color commentator on Missouri Southern football broadcasts the last two seasons, a job he will have to relinquish.
Ironically, as Tom returns as a head coach, Cindi is stepping down after coaching the high school dance team, the Coquettes, for 30 years. She will continue to teach third grade in the district.
They have two children. Their daughter, Piper, is head volleyball coach at Republic, and their son, Kellen, is the head of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Johnson County, Kan.
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