Desoto County Sports

Cox to step away as Hernando boys’ basketball coach

Photo: Stephen Cox has been coaching Hernando Tigers’ basketball since the 2008-09 season. (Bob Bakken/ 

Hernando school officials have begun the process to name a new boys’ basketball coach with the recent decision by Stephen Cox to step away from the position.  

Cox, who informed his team before spring break, will remain as a drivers’ education instructor but would not be coaching.  

The Tigers’ bench has been the basketball season home for Cox since the 2008-09 season, when he replaced Josh Brooks.  Next to Eric Rombaugh’s 20 years at Olive Branch, Cox is the longest-tenured boys’ basketball coach at one location among DeSoto County high school coaches.  

Before joining the varsity Tigers, Cox led teams at J.Z. George and at Winona Christian, as well as head coach for a year at Hernando Middle School.

He graduated from Delta State University with a master’s degree in physical education and played at Holmes Community College. Cox said coaching has helped him stay close to the game he loves.  

“I just like competing and since I couldn’t play anymore that’s the closest I could get to compete,” Cox said. “And, of course I love working with the kids and enjoy my time dealing with them and I wanted to make a positive impact on the kids coming up.”

Cox’s best season as a coach was the 2018-19 year when the Tigers won the Region 1-6A tournament championship with a 66-63 victory in the finals over Southaven. Hernando finished the year with a record of 18-12 and reached the second round of the 6A state playoffs.  

As players face challenges on the floor each time they cross the sidelines, Cox has also faced struggles the last few years but has continued to lead his charges through those challenges.   

“I had a stroke like four years ago, and I really have no feeling on one side of my body,” Cox said. “ I think I had to relearn how to read, walk and everything. And it’s just getting harder and harder to be able to physically show them what I would want to show.”

Cox also said it was time for a new vision to begin the next era of Hernando basketball. 

“I mean, I’ve been here 16 years and it’s time to get some fresh blood here,” Cox said, adding that coaching can keep one feeling young by working with the kids.  

“It keeps you feeling their energy and that translates or re-energizes you every day,” Cox said. “Even after you’ve had a bad game, the next day they come in and work hard. The kids here for the most part are pretty darn good kids and they are very fun to work with.”

Cox is moving away from the clipboard but not from the gymnasium, saying he will stay close to support the program.  

“When I told them that I was stepping down I told them I’m gonna be their biggest cheerleader and I will be here for them anyway I can,” Cox said.