Fox returns to coach at ‘special place’ Apollo-Ridge

Friday, June 15, 2018 | 11:48 PM

Greg Fox had perfect timing.

He bought a house in Apollo this spring, just as the Apollo-Ridge boys basketball coaching position was opening — almost the perfect scenario for Fox, who starred for the Vikings as a player and later coached them for more than a decade.

If it was fate, Fox leaned right into it, applying for the job and getting hired late last month to replace Damon Andring.

“I always had an interest in coming back coaching eventually, and to be honest with you, I wouldn't be coaching at Apollo if my family and I weren't moving to Apollo,” said Fox, who coached the Vikings from 1996-2009. “Everything just seemed to fall into place. The stars lined up for us.”

It wasn't a hasty decision for Fox, who discussed the vacancy with his family before applying. He resigned in 2009 largely to spend more time with his family, which at the time included three sons who were still in school.

Now those kids are 24, 20 and 13 years old, making it a more manageable commitment.

“They knew from the first time the amount of time it takes and the amount of time I'm away from home,” Fox said. “I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page.”

Fox didn't stop coaching after he left Apollo-Ridge. He just traded his Vikings teams for his son's youth basketball teams in the Kiski Area School District. With the family's move to Apollo, his youngest son will begin seventh grade in the district in the fall.

For Fox, the new job represents a homecoming. Before his 13-season tenure as coach, Fox had what still ranks as one of the best careers in A-R basketball history.

A 1989 Apollo-Ridge graduate, Fox holds the school records in assists in a game (24), season (351) and career (848) and ranks second all-time in points (1,329). Also the school's career steals leader. He started two seasons at Edinboro and ranks among the school's all-time leaders in assists and 3-point shooting.

“It's a great privilege and a thrill to coach, but it adds another level when it's your alma mater,” Fox said. “When I talked to my family, my wife and kids were excited about me going back. It added another level realizing you're going to coach your kid.

“Apollo-Ridge is a special place. It always has been, and it always will be. I'm excited to be back and get started again.”

A teacher in the Apollo-Ridge School District, Fox said he got an early jump on coaching his new players as a faculty advisor last month. The Vikings are going through open-gym workouts and summer league competition.

Numbers were down early because of vacation and other sports, Fox said, but he said he was happy with the effort of the players who were attending.

“The kids that have been there are just enjoying it. They're working extremely hard. They're very coachable,” he said. “You can coach those kids any day of the week, as far as I'm concerned.”

Apollo-Ridge last made the WPIAL playoffs in 2015 and went 5-15 last season, but Fox is hopeful the Vikings can turn the corner.

“Bottom line is, they're still a young team,” he said. “We struggled the last couple years as far as record goes, but our main goal is to just get better every day. Get better every open gym, get better every practice or game we have. It's stressing the little things that win you those games. We need to do those things, and if we keep getting better, the wins are going to come.”

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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