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Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 | 2 a.m.
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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer work through their final podcast of the school year by discussing the state basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena this weekend.
Vernon Fox, a former high school football star at Cimarron-Memorial who eventually had a lengthy NFL career, has no previous coaching experience.
Yet, officials at one local high school feel he’s the perfect man to lead their program.
Fox was introduced Tuesday as Faith Lutheran’s new coach, taking over a program he calls a sleeping giant and impressing players and school officials alike because of his strong faith.
Fox told players everything he does is for God’s glory, describing to them how being successful involves more than performing on the field. It’s a combination of faith, academics and family.
“I consider myself a man of God first and a football player second,” Fox said. “The way I prioritize my life has always been faith, family and then football.
“This is a unique situation where I’m able to come in and not only implement athletic excellence but at the same time bring a level of spirituality and impact on these kids,” he continued.
When Fox addressed the players, a group of school administrators stood eagerly listening in the back of the auditorium. Within a minute, each had a smile on their face.
They classify Fox as being the “home run” hire and his first-impression confirmed that assessment.
Officials had an exhaustive national search for about two months before being introduced to Fox, who after his NFL career ended in 2009 has been training athletes and doing motivational speaking.
He wasn’t looking to get into coaching, but by chance was told by a friend about the opening. It was the perfect match — officials say they wanted a coach who was a man of the Lord, who stressed academics, and of course, knew the game of football.
Fox, who played eight NFL seasons with four teams, replaces Jake Kothe, who will remain at the school as the assistant principal. Kothe’s 16 years coaching Faith Lutheran was one of the longest tenures in Nevada, leading the Crusaders from competing in the 2A classification against the likes of the Meadows to nearly making the playoffs in the large-school classification.
Fox instructed players to give Kothe a standing ovation at the end of Tuesday’s meeting. It was yet another classy move from the new coach.
Fox, a 1997 graduate of Cimarron and arguably the respected program’s best all-time player, has his jersey retired by the school. The Spartans were a state power in the mid-to-late 1990s.
Fox continued to shine in college and was an all-Western Athletic Conference selection his final two seasons at Fresno State. However, at 5-foot-10, the safety wasn’t picked in the NFL draft. He eventually worked his way into the league as a free agent, finishing his career with 148 tackles and two interceptions.
He told the players how he wasn’t always the biggest player on the field, but everything he did was for God’s glory. God honored him with achievements.
“I’ve had some great coaches over the years of playing who put me in the position to be successful. That is what I plan to do here,” said Fox, who was also an all-WAC academic selection at Fresno State.
Fox’s hiring isn’t the only big news at Faith Lutheran.
The school is in the process of raising $6.5 million for a new weight room and athletic facility. Planned to open in late 2014, the facility would include a football room and new basketball gym. The school also announced an apparel agreement with Under Armour.