‘Familiar face’: Former assistant Alexis Cox is Richmond’s next head softball coach
RICHMOND, Ind. — As game time approached for Tuesday’s scrimmage against Adams Central, Richmond head softball coach Alexis Cox was tossing pop flies to her players in left field. Meanwhile, the umpires had arrived and were standing at home plate, waiting for both teams to be ready. Eventually, one of them approached Cox and asked her a question. She immediately switched gears and had her team take the field for pregame infield.
It was like a lightbulb turned on over Cox’s head and she realized, “Oh yeah, we need to do this before we start the game.”
“It hasn’t really clicked in my brain yet that I’m the head coach and those are my calls to make,” Cox said with a laugh. “I don’t know that it will hit me until we play on Saturday, until our first real, official game when I really am calling the shots.”
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After two years as a varsity assistant, Cox was officially approved as the Red Devils’ new head coach Jan. 11. It’s her first head coaching gig, and she’ll be the first to tell you she’s still getting used to having that title. She admitted she was nervous for the scrimmage and is sure those same jitters will be there March 25 for Richmond’s season opener at home against South Dearborn.
Regardless, Cox looked the part Tuesday. Her pregame grounders and flyballs were solid. She was locked in defensively, seated where most coaches are: on a bucket of balls at the head of the dugout. She looked comfortable giving signs from the third-base coaching box, even though it felt “absolutely weird.”
The coaching part of the job has come natural to Cox, partly because she’s going into her third year with the program. She’s led practices before, she’s done media interviews and she knows the players. None of that is new for Cox. It’s all the seemingly small things that don’t come to mind until they happen that have caught her off guard.
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Like standing right next to the home dugout while her team is batting instead of across the field next to first base.
“Hearing some of the laughter, the joking and the way they cheer on their teammates — the things you don’t hear on the other side of the field — are really interesting to hear when you’re right there next to them,” Cox said.
Like having all the answers for her players whenever they have questions.
“The girls are coming to me, saying ‘Hey, if this happens, what am I doing?’ Cox said. “Last year, it wasn’t me they were coming to. Sometimes, I have to tell them ‘You know what, let me think on that for a second. Let me get back to you on that at practice tomorrow.’”
Like experiencing just how much involvement goes into being a head coach behind the scenes.
“It’s a huge step just from all the outside work that has to be done, all the communication I have with the athletic department and the athletic directors,” Cox said. “That communication and the constant ‘Hey, coach, this is what I need from you. Hey, coach, do you have this for me?’ I didn’t have to see that last year.”
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It’s a learning process for Cox just as much as it is for her players, but Richmond is happy to have her.
“We are excited to have coach Cox lead our softball program,” Richmond Athletic Director Clay Bolser said in a release. “I am confident she will ensure that our student-athletes have a high-quality experience.”
Tuesday’s scrimmage ended after four innings in a 19-7 loss to Adams Central. Cox recognized plenty of areas in which the Red Devils can improve, but she also made sure to give her players a “sandwich of compliments.” Defensively, everyone knew where to go with the ball and seemed on the same page. Offensively, they hit the ball hard but right at defenders.
Cox’s honesty about her pregame butterflies seemed to calm her players’ nerves. She said she’s starting to settle in, find her coaching style and enjoy it, a positive sign after second-guessing herself about accepting the job a few months ago.
Most of those reservations came from her career. Cox is a special education preschool teacher at the Northeastern Early Learning Center, meaning she can’t get to Richmond until the school day is over. The field needed some work before Tuesday’s scrimmage, more than the two hours before first pitch when Cox arrived. Bolser was one of the many people who helped throughout the day, and he joked that his forearms were sore from all the raking.
At the end of the day, Cox’s decision came down to what she believed was best for the players.
“That’s part of the reason I finally told myself, ‘You know what, I should take this position’ because I was a familiar face for them,” Cox said. “I knew the program, knew the girls, knew how they worked, knew how their minds worked and how to talk to them. Being a familiar face, hopefully, will help us be successful this year.”
Zach Piatt is a reporter for The Palladium-Item. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @zachpiatt13.
This article originally appeared on Richmond Palladium-Item: Former assistant Alexis Cox is Richmond’s next head softball coach