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June 7, 2014

All-Area Spring Male Team: Coahulla Creek’s Foxx soared above the rest to earn top honor

Coahulla Creek High School junior Josh Foxx looks back on the scrawny little kid he was as a freshman and can’t help but laugh. As his first year at the school in Varnell came to a close, he had spent the spring on the track team as a high jumper. He admits he didn’t put in all of the work he should have and wasn’t really committed to the sport. He was good, but he knew he wasn’t at an elite level, and he didn’t even compete at the region track meet that spring.

But coach Eric Bishop, an accomplished college high-jumper himself, saw something in that kid.

That was when the change came. The commitment came and the sacrifices were made. And success followed, but it was a long road from that unfocused freshman to what Foxx is now — state champion.

“I never would have seen myself in this type of situation two years ago,” Foxx said. “It is one of those situations that you just don’t imagine yourself in. But I have put in the work, and it has paid off greatly. I just thought I was a kid jumping and just doing it for fun. But then coach Bishop came along, and it became a lifestyle. You have two options — you become committed or you don’t do it at all.”

Foxx captured Coahulla Creek’s first Georgia High School Association athletics state title of any sort since the school opened in 2011, winning the Class 3A state title in the high jump with a leap of 6-foot, 6-inches. For his efforts, Foxx has been selected as The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Spring Male Athlete of the Year. The rest of the team is made up of athletes from the area’s tennis, golf and track and field athletes. The team is chosen by The Daily Citizen sports staff with input from area coaches. The spring girls team will be published on June 15.

“His mindset, I guarantee you it changed totally from where he was as a freshman,” said Bishop, who won a pair of NCAA championships during his four years at North Carolina. “Coaches ask this so often of their athletes — and they refuse to do it for whatever reason — but it was just the buy-in he made to what his coaches were telling him to do.”

The change started to show during his sophomore year, showing a glimmer of the shine that was to come. Foxx advanced out of Region 5-3A in the shadow of North Murray’s Brady Swill-ing — another competitor who had worked closely with Bishop when he was employed at the Chatsworth school. Swilling went on to finish second at state with a jump of 6-4. Foxx made it to state and was eighth overall with a best of 5-10.

After that, it was as if Foxx had found his high jump trampoline.

Last summer, he competed at the American Athletic Union’s Junior Olympics in the 16-under division. He finished second in the nation with a leap 6 inches higher than what he turned in at state.

“It began with a lot of mechanics and just getting to know where you needed to be, and coach Bishop helped out a lot with that,” Foxx said. “After that, it is working on strength after you get your technique down. If you are strong but you can’t jump, then it doesn’t really matter. If you can jump but you aren’t strong, you aren’t going to jump very high. You have to put it all together at once. That was what I finally started doing last summer.”

Bishop saw the change even before the duo made the trip back to Whitfield County from the GHSA state track meet in Jefferson last May.

“He stopped with excuses,” Bishop said. “He wrote out his goals for him, and we talked about the steps he needed to do to get here. I know that he really, really wants to be successful in everything that he wants to do. If he didn’t win state, that wasn’t even the end goal. The end goal is you graduate from college with no debt and have a leg up on the rest of the students. That sounded pretty good to him and that might have been some of it too with him seeing a bigger picture.”

Coming into this year’s high school track season, the key was going to be whether or not Foxx could continue to put together his best performances on the biggest stages. He answered the question early on by winning the Ronnie McClurg Rotary Invitational at Dalton High School with a personal best jump of 6-8.

“Mostly it is about putting in a lot of hard work,” Foxx said. “What motivates me is going out there and winning and putting everything that I have into it. It is all on my shoulders and I don’t have to worry about or depend on anyone else. If I win or lose, it is all on my shoulders. That is one thing that I like about track is that it is all the result of what I do. It motivates me to know that I do it on my own and winning or losing all of the credit or all of the blame is on me.”

The regular season for Foxx was rarely a challenge. He would pass heights throughout a meet, go out and jump one of two times and walk away as the winner. Early on, official track meets for the Colts became just part of a regular day’s workout. After his events were finished for the meet, he would spend the rest of his time running up the stairs of stadium or finding a corner of the field to do a personal workout program.

“It has been a long, hard road from last year,” Foxx said. “I have come out a lot of times on this track by myself whenever coach Bishop gave me a workout to do. I have had to push myself. He knows that if you don’t put forth the effort, then it is not going to do you any good. I have a lot of personal motivation. I have had a lot of things going on throughout my life, and it is just pushing me to want to do greater things.”

Now, Foxx is focused on a summer competition schedule which includes nationals again, but he will move up in age to the 18-under level and will face a more elite pool of talent. Then it is returning to defend his state title and find that end goal of Bishop’s — a college scholarship.

“I am not sure what to expect to be honest,” said Foxx, who says several colleges have been in contact with him already. “I am moving up in age class, and I could be going up against college athletes in the 18-year-old division. It is going to be totally different, and I really don’t know what to expect. I just have to keep working.”

Here’s a look at the rest of this spring’s outstanding performers in boys golf, tennis and track and field:

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