1:03 pm CDT, Saturday, May 23, 2020
Photo: Greg Shashack / The Telegraph
Under normal circumstances, a player would have received a cold shoulder from friends and teammates and coach upon learning he would be departing them for another opportunity.
But this wasn’t a normal circumstance. And for Cy Cox, it’s bittersweet leaving behind a place he called home and friends from his past three years of high school life but moving up to bigger and better competition. Oh, and Cy Cox is following his father Dan Cox to a school where the senior Cox got another job that was too much to pass up for son too.
Cy Cox was looking forward to building on his prep baseball career his junior season at Staunton this season but never got that chance because of COVID-19. And after Dan Cox, the superintendent at Staunton, changed jobs and took the same position to be superintendent at Rochester Community School District, he’s bringing his son with him, as Cy Cox has turned in his Bulldogs hat in exchange for a Rochester Rockets one.
And Cy Cox’s reasoning is simple.
“The conference here in Rochester is a bit tougher and I wanted a little bit tougher competition in my last year before college,” said Cox, who has already committed to attending Central Florida as a pitcher in 2022. “I’m ready for a little bit of a bigger stage, but it’s the same stage I’ve been on for 12 years. Same game just go out there and perform.”
Cox, who as a sophomore hit .538 with four home runs, 10 doubles, 29 RBI and the lefty was 2-2 on the mound in eight appearances for the 16-9 Bulldogs, was given the opportunity by his father to stay behind and finish his career as a Bulldog. He chose not to and could have rubbed some people the wrong way. But that wasn’t the case.
“He brought it up to me and he gave me the option to stay at Staunton if I wanted to, but this is a good opportunity for him just as it is me,” Cox said of his dad. “Get a different look right before college and make the most of it.
“It was definitely the toughest part (breaking the news to teammates and coach Kyle McBrain), but they all supported me in it and we were all ready to make a good last year together. That was also pretty tough when we heard we wouldn’t get that chance.”
McBrain, who recently announced he was also leaving Staunton’s head coaching post to return home and take the same position in Hillsboro, doesn’t blame Cox for searching for a better opportunity and to face stiffer competition in his senior season. Taking that step from small-school Illinois to Division I Central Florida will get Cox exposed to bigger challenges playing in the Central State Eight Conference.
Cox, who was a freshman on Staunton’s school-record 24-win season in 2018, joins a Rockets program that has won 20 or more games in six straight seasons under Matt Carlson, including 77 wins the past three seasons.
“I think if anybody can do it, he’s the kind of kid that can get it figured out pretty quick,” McBrain said. “His work ethic is the best I’ve seen and being a lefty and having some good off-speed stuff and a great arm, he’s definitely got a chance.
“He’s probably the hardest worker that we’ve had come through. He would leave our practice and go down to somewhere in the metro area and he worked out there. He was just constantly working and working and working. Everything that he’s gotten, he’s earned it. It hasn’t just been him riding his talent. He’s put in the work.”
This isn’t Cox’s first rodeo when it comes to moving and changing schools. Although he spent his first three seasons of high school in Staunton, his father has moved up in the ranks in his profession that’s required moves in the past.
“That’s the toughest part, but we’ve always been moving and change is pretty frequent for me,” Cox said. “At least I’m only a hour away and I’ve actually already come back and worked out with some of the kids there (in Staunton) and we’re still all pretty close. But what’s good is I’ve already worked out with some kids here (in Rochester) too so I’m already jumping into stuff here.
“I have really good friends (in Staunton) and we were looking to put in a really good year for this junior year and pick up right where we left off. This team was more dedicated than any I’ve been with at Staunton. We had morning stuff and we had great numbers at those, seniors showing up, our class and the lower classes were all showing up and we had a good feeling.”
Cox is grateful he gets another chance at the prep level to sharpen his skills before joining the ranks of the Knights in Orlando, Fla. Cox feels great remorse for those seniors that will never get this chance again.
“I’m really thankful for that,” Cox said. “It really sucks for those seniors. I’m really thankful that I have one more year to go out there and do what I can.
“It’s really tough. It brings out a lot of different effects in people, but I was really bummed when we heard that it was canceled. I put in a lot of work this year. This was the first year I actually stopped playing all my other sports other than baseball only because that’s what I want to do. … I just wanted to put as much work into the sport that I want to be doing in college.”
Even though college isn’t on the horizon, Cox is looking forward to becoming a Knight and didn’t pass up the chance when a scholarship was presented.
“Just how they recruited me,” Cox said. “All of my blocks lined up with their blocks. I had a couple other visits lined up after that one, but my dad and I went there, couldn’t check anything off that we didn’t like and they gave me a pretty good offer and I jumped on it.”