Surround yourself with good, like-minded people — and the results will show.
New Norwalk football coach Todd Fox never had to look far to do that as both a player and coach.
A 1991 Willard graduate, Fox was introduced as the head football coach at Norwalk last Thursday. He played for and coached with Terry King at Willard, and was an assistant with Chris Hawkins and Steve Gilbert before becoming the head coach at Tiffin Calvert, where he spent the last eight seasons.
“I was asked during the interview process which one of those guys I consider myself a disciple of,” Fox said. “I don’t want to say that I am to any one guy, but each one of those guys I’ve taken a piece from. I drew from every one of those guys.”
King went 84-69 in 15 seasons at Willard (1984-98), winning two Northern Ohio League championships with two playoff appearances. Fox was a member of both playoff teams in 1988 and 1990 — the latter an 11-1 season as a senior.
He then spent King’s last four years at Willard as an assistant on his staff.
“Coach King, I can tell you right away, it was his development of our feelings as a player for him,” Fox said. “His connection he built with us is where I want to lead my program.
“I want to make sure our guys know I’m there for them,” he added. “I have a great father, but I also knew Coach King was a second father to me, and that’s what I took from him.”
From 1999-2007, Fox remained as an assistant coach at Willard. That included five seasons under Chris Hawkins (1999-2004), which included a 41-25 record, another league title and three playoff appearances (1999, 2001, 2002). Hawkins has 149 wins and nine playoff appearances at Willard, Galion and Ontario.
Fox has been a part of all five Willard playoff appearances as a player or assistant coach.
Fox then spent 2008 and 2009 as an assistant for Steve Gilbert, a former Norwalk assistant, at Tiffin Columbian. A member of the OHSFCA Hall of Fame, Gilbert went 137-44 with 10 NOL titles and eight playoff appearances in 17 seasons at Columbian.
“Coach Gilbert, it was his management and how he did things and approached small things — and the same thing with Coach Hawkins,” Fox said of his time under both coaches.
During his eight seasons at Tiffin Calvert, the Senecas went 56-36 — with seven consecutive playoff appearances from 2011-17. Calvert won a first-round game in six of those seven years, and last season went 8-4, falling to Associated Press poll champion St. Paul in the second round of the Division VII playoffs in Fremont.
Facing St. Paul in all but one season, Fox’s teams won four games against the Flyers, including a first-round playoff victory in 2012. That is no small feat, as in 28 seasons, there are three Firelands Conference programs that have four wins combined against John Livengood-coached teams (260-68).
The two developed a strong friendship and respect for each other — something Fox wants to make even stronger at Norwalk.
“It’s been fun being opponents, but I look forward to working together in the community here and hopefully sharing our resources in terms of knowledge and getting each of our programs better,” Fox said. “I think it would be nothing but great things for the community if both schools reach a certain level of success together.
“I’m excited about that,” he added. “He’s done a great job for a very long time — and I can’t say I’m not totally unhappy to not coach against his teams anymore.”