Eagles Athletics

Meet the Coach: Roger Cox, boys basketball

Coach Cox has been at the helm of the boys basketball program for 14 years.
Coach Roger Cox has been at the helm of Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School’s boys basketball program since 2006.

Coach Cox was a three-sport high school athlete (basketball, baseball, and football) at Tavares High School in Central Florida. He played basketball and baseball at Toccoa Falls College, then served as assistant women’s basketball coach at TFC under Head Coach Paul Shiffer.

In 1995, Coach Cox became the head boys basketball coach and athletic director at Tavares Christian School, then he joined the coaching staff of the reigning 3A Florida State Champions Mount Dora High School and became the head coach there in 2000.

In 2003, Coach Cox  accepted the head of school position at Blue Lake Academy in Eustis, Florida. He and his family moved to Rabun Gap in 2006 where he began coaching the Eagles.  Throughout his years as an educator, Coach Cox has taught English, History, and Old Testament, and has also served as an Athletic Director, Dean of Students, Head of School, and Associate Director of Admissions. He has also coached  baseball, football, golf, cross-country, and bowling during his career.  

Currently Coach Cox serves as Assistant Director of Admission and Athletics. In this role, he helps families through the admission process and travels extensively to meet new families and share about the opportunities available at Rabun Gap.

Under Coach Cox’s leadership, the program has developed into a formidable force in the ultra-competitive North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association.  The program has posted 10 consecutive winning seasons, with a 25-7 record and a Final Four appearance in 2011.

Playing on one of the most competitive basketball leagues in the country that has produced  elite-level players including Steph Curry, John Wall, Ryan Kelly, and more, the Eagles have had to step up to a level of play much higher than typical high school programs.

“In order to compete in our league, our players must be physically, mentally, and emotionally strong. Success is not easy and it is not an accident. Almost any victory in our season is a true battle,” Coach Cox said. “I would personally prefer to play the best teams and risk losing than to play weaker teams and have a better record. Our record may not be great, but our players are highly regarded and impressive. I am proud of this team for the way they have fought to compete and how they have committed to improving. These players deserve to be appreciated for their sacrifices and willingness to put themselves in this extremely competitive environment.”

What is your coaching philosophy?
On a regular basis we discuss the pillars of our basketball program, which are Team, Toughness, Defense.I believe that everything we do in practice, in the game, and off the court should fit into these pillars. I want our players to be humble, to be grateful, to work hard, and to have fun. The strategy of how we play changes from season to season based on the players we have in our program, but the expectations remain the same regarding our pillars. We want players to commit to each other because when we do that, we can accomplish more than when we are isolated. We want our players to be tough and we define toughness as the ability to remain committed to the things we say are important to us regardless of the circumstances. For example, if we say it is important to be a good teammate, toughness allows us to be committed to being a good teammate regardless of how we feel. Finally, if we are great teammates and we demonstrate toughness, then we can effectively defend in basketball. If we build on those pillars, the outcome usually takes care of itself. Ultimately, what matters to me most is that the players absorb these concepts and lessons from basketball and apply them to their lives now and into their adult lives. 

What is your favorite thing about coaching at Rabun Gap?
Without any doubt my favorite aspect of coaching basketball at Rabun Gap is being in this community of parents and educators who are all committed to the growth and development of the students as individuals. We do not define them as athletes or artists or students. Each is a person who we care about and embrace. Basketball is something they do but it does not impact their value as a person and it is not their identity. In a typical high school coaching situation, the coach might know only a few parents and may not know them well. Also, that coach may interact with his team only a couple of hours per day. In our community, I know the players very well and spend many hours with them on and off the court during the week and weekends. I know the parents of our players. They have made a sacrifice and commitment to send them to Rabun Gap and have entrusted us with their precious children. I take this role very seriously and I am committed to working very hard for the students, to being honest with them, and to pushing them to improve so they can attempt to achieve the goals they have set for themselves. As we observe this process over time, the aspect of coaching that compels me to continue is witnessing the growth of the students and feeling the appreciation of the graduates. 

What are your thoughts on this season so far? What are your goals for this season?
This season we have attempted a new and different strategy for our varsity team. With the loss of nine players from last season, we have many new players and have less experience than many of our previous varsity teams. We also have less size than we have had in recent years. Therefore, we decided to play a faster pace. We apply pressure to the opponent on defense by aggressively defending the entire length of the court and by attacking quickly and fearlessly on offense. The results have been positive. The style of play is both fun and difficult. It is really fun to run and shoot three-point shots and to try to score lots of points. Yet, it also requires tremendous effort and physical conditioning. I believe we have been improving daily. Our goal is to be at our best in late January and into February and to give ourselves a chance to advance in the NCISAA 4A playoffs. 

What has been your favorite memory as head boys basketball coach?
When I read this question immediately pictures of former players began scrolling through my mind. Genuinely I do not have a singular favorite memory. My favorite memory is the collection of memories I have with all of those that I have worked closely over the years. I love to hear from former players. Many of them stay in touch with me. Some of them stop by campus to say hello, to see games, or to watch practice. I get to see them at their colleges or in their home states or countries. When I am able, I meet them for coffee or breakfast or dinner. Seeing my former players as adults is my favorite memory because we reminisce and we talk about their lives now, which is what matters to me the most. 
Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School is a private, coeducational day and boarding school for grades Pre-K through 12. Centrally located between Atlanta, GA, Greenville, SC, and Asheville, NC, we prepare young people for college, career, and a lifetime of leadership and service.