When the opportunity of a lifetime comes around, most people tend to jump on said opportunity right away.
And even though Adam Cox owns two businesses — A.C. Communications and Finders Keepers — in Scioto County, he wasn’t going to let that get between him and the New Boston boys basketball head coaching gig. The 1996 New Boston graduate officially accepted the Tigers’ head coaching post in May to fulfill a dream that had been held long before the new Glenwood High School was even built back in 2012.
“I’m just very blessed for the opportunity that I’ve been given,” Cox said. “First and foremost, I have to thank the almighty Lord and God for taking a hold of my life and for giving me the opportunity to pursue a dream of mine. I was born and raised in New Boston. I’ve been a part of New Boston’s basketball program, off and on, since I was in the third grade, so it’s an honor and a privilege to obtain the head coaching position here. It’s a dream come true. It’s always been a dream of mine. When the position became available, I knew that I didn’t want to let it go, despite the fact that I have two businesses. I wanted to apply for the job, I wanted to interview well, and I wanted the position.”“
How long has Cox held that dream for, you ask? Well, close to three decades — since serving as a ballboy and a manager for former New Boston head coaches in Rick Bowman, Don Gibson, Chris Porter, and Mark Spears, among others.
“There were a lot of New Boston coaches that I served as either the manager or the ball boy for,” Cox said. “I was in each huddle from the late 80s to 1996.”
During that time, New Boston — who, along with Clay and Portsmouth — were arguably the powerhouses of Southeastern Ohio basketball in the 50s and 60s, kept rolling along. New Boston won two SOC I titles in 1992 and 1997 — splitting the title with East and Green in ‘92 and sharing the title with the Bobcats in ‘97 — and were regular contenders at the district level.
Since the fall of 2000, however, the fortunes have changed for New Boston. In fact, the Tigers haven’t won an SOC I title or advanced to the Convo since February 26, 2000, when New Boston defeated Manchester by a 54-32 count to advance into district semifinal play in Athens.
In fact, since falling to Division IV’s then-No. 9-ranked Reedsville Eastern by a 63-46 tally in the Division IV, Athens I District Semifinals on March 6 of the same year, the Tigers, when they have advanced to sectional final play, have been defeated by double-digits in all but three of their sectional final appearances.
“Back in the 1990s, you’d be lucky to get out of New Boston with a win,” Cox said. “In the 2000s, that’s kind of been the other way around. But for the most part, these kids are dedicated. They want love. They want a coach to show them that he cares about them, and show them that he’s going to be with them. Scott Jenkins (former New Boston head coach) did an excellent job of bringing school pride back, especially as far as the former alumni are concerned. He got people involved in different games and ceremonies.”
And Cox — who coached standouts such as Clay’s Nate Hinze, East’s Akia Brown, Notre Dame’s Trevon Turner, and South Webster’s Shane Zimmerman, among others, to an Ohio AAU state title in 2015 with the Southern Ohio Magic — plans to continue to build on what Jenkins started when the latter took the job in 2014.
First, the New Boston lifer has the Tigers set to play 26 games over the summer — which is 26 more than in the summer of 2016 — in order to keep his youngsters in shape.
“We’ve got a very good summer schedule,” Cox said. “We’ve contacted Shawnee State’s Jeff Hamilton, Rio Grande’s Ken French, and Cedarville’s Pat Estepp. All of them have contacted us about our summer schedule and have shown interest early on. We have 26 games scheduled across 10 days in the month of June, and that’s 26 more games than the guys played last summer. That’s going to be big for us.”
Then, there’s the hiring of one of the area’s most well-known strength and conditioning minds in Doran Martin. Martin, who has played an integral role in the Shawnee State women’s basketball program’s — with a 60-9 record over the past two seasons — will be working with Cox’s players two days a week throughout the balance of the year.
“Doran will be working with my players, two days a week, on their agility, strength, and conditioning,” Cox said. “It’ll help us be better prepared for the season, and that’s going to play a major role in our improvement.”
Add those factors into the fact that New Boston returns seniors Kade Conley (16 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals) and Kyle McQuithy (10.1 points), along with junior Tyler Caldwell (10.3 points, five rebounds), and it equals a team that has the potential to make a big jump from 2016-17.
“We’ve got a lot of great kids at this school,” Cox said. “I’m excited about the upcoming season. We have four seniors that are coming out for the team, and we’ve got a couple other underclassmen that will fill in some spots. New Boston’s a village that has a lot of pride. There’s a lot of good families in New Boston that I’m going to have the honor of working with their kids and helping to restore basketball here at New Boston. It’s been 17 years since we won a sectional championship, so that’s one of our team’s goals. That certainly is the goal of our four seniors — to win a sectional title here, to have a winning season, and to bring back some energy and enthusiasm to the game of basketball at New Boston.”
And without question, Cox brings plenty of that intensity to the table.
While the first-year head coach doesn’t plan on bring a set system to the table — Cox prefers to adjust to personnel and what opposing matchups present — the 1996 New Boston graduate will expect his players to bring intensity to the table in between every whistle.
“We’re going to be disciplined, and we’re going to play hard,” Cox said. “I’m a very energetic coach. I’m going to be up and down that sideline. I’m going to coach from the opening tip to the buzzer, and I give 110 percent. My kids will reflect that. They will bring that to the court. You’ll see a sense of urgency and a higher energy that we’ll bring to the court this year. We’re definitely not going to be outhustled by anybody. We may get beat, but we’re not going to be outhustled.”
It’s definitely provided for a great response so far. Cox says that there have been at least 25 players at open gym on a regular basis, and players and parents alike have stepped up to help causes throughout the community, which include three separate free youth fundamental days at the high school, where any young kid from the area can attend from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., among other functions.
“We’re just going to try to give back a little bit to our school district and our community,” Cox said. “We’ve had great support from the family members, and the parents are eager and ready to do fundraising while getting their kid to do something worthwhile while giving back to our village. In the area that we’re in today, you worry about high school kids and if they are eating after school. You worry if they’re going to a house where there is a blanket and a bed in a room where they can do homework at, and if they are being taken care of. I’ve been blessed to have a well-knit team and a well-knit village with great family members and parents. We’ve got tons of parents who are doing great things for not only their kids, but other kids on the team. It’s just been great so far.”
But it’s an opportunity that Cox believes that he wouldn’t have had a chance at, without Shawnee Hills Baptist Church Pastor Kenny Estep guiding him toward God.
“I’m a Tiger,” Cox said. “I bleed Red and Gray. I thank Kenny Estep. Kenny’s been a big influence in my life. He’s helped me see what the Lord has in his sights for me, what the Lord has provided me with, what I should be thankful for, and how to work hard for other things. I couldn’t do it without my Lord and Savior.”