As executive director, Fox works to secure sponsorships and partnerships for the Show-Me State Games, which take place over three weekends in the summer. There are also various fundraisers and events that occur throughout the year.
Fox’s father was a college football player, the first of many athletes in his life to guide and mentor him. At Central Methodist University, known in 1979 as Central Methodist College, Fox played basketball for four years under Ken Ash. He later worked for Ash through the Show-Me State Games.
Prior to the Games, Fox coached basketball for 29 years and garnered six Final Four state competition wins with Jefferson City High School. In 2010, he retired from coaching and became the executive director of the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association. Ash then recruited Fox to be the associate director of the Games in 2012, and Fox eventually replaced Ash as executive director in 2015.
“He’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done to the best of his ability,” Ash says. “He’s a natural-born leader by how he attacks his work, and people follow that lead because he sets a really good example.”
Vox sat down with Fox to talk more about his decades long involvement with Missouri sports and this summer’s Show-Me State Games, which start Friday.
How did you become interested in sports and competition?
My parents. I’ve always been involved in sports. My dad had a tremendous influence on me. He was an athlete. He was a coach. So it was kind of a natural fit. As long as I can remember, I’ve always been involved in sports to some degree.
Growing up, what kind of mentors or role models inspired or motivated you?
Coaches and players. I can tell you today, some of my best friends were college teammates. I think it comes back to the mentoring from the coaches: being pushed, being challenged, getting those goals. The process of achieving those goals — to be able to take, in basketball, 12 to 15 guys and get everybody on the same page with the same goal in mind — is really difficult to do.
What’s your coaching philosophy?
Firm but fair. I think the greatest goal is getting kids to excel at a level, that one, maybe they achieved more than they thought they could, and two, in a team context — so playing as good if not better than you’re capable, but also understanding the value of being a member of a team and being a great teammate. I look at our staff as a team. The same things that I grew up believing, that’s just kind of how I live my life today.
What challenges have you faced as executive director of the Show-Me State Games?
Securing sponsorships, as we’re self-funded, and getting out and meeting new people. Development has changed over the years. Years ago, people just wanted to be good stewards and say, ‘Here, we want to be a part of the Show-Me State Games.’ That still exists, but marketing today is much more about ‘What can you give me for that sponsorship?’ The other thing that a lot of people don’t understand is that we have a staff of seven. You think about last year’s 62,000 folks. That’s 30,000 participants, hundreds of volunteers, hundreds of commissioners, site supervisors, tournament directors, referees — all those people that actually make the events go. It’s just amazing.
Why do you think the games are important?
Because of our mission: health, fitness, family and fun. We have more than 40 sports. We feel we have something for everybody in a time when fitness is such a big issue. We feel like we’re an outlet for people to get off the couch.
— REBEKAH HALL
Photo By kelsey walling