North Tonawanda Boys’ Varsity volleyball coach Luke Hodgson appropriately referred to the volleyball program as the hidden gem of NT scholastic sports. A scene which is dominated by football and basketball.
Hidden gem not only fits when describing the volleyball program, it’s spot on when talking about one of their best players- Jordan Fox.
Fox, a senior who spent just over two seasons on the Lumberjacks varsity volleyball team, had the thrill of his athletic career when he recently signed his National Letter of Intent to play at Medaille College.
“It was definitely pretty satisfying (to sign),” Fox said. “I didn’t really think about college volleyball until the (home) playoff game when Medaille scouts approached me. So it was pretty exciting.”
Fox said that initially he thought his competitive athletic career would come to an end after high school. But when scouts approached him after the Jacks emotional playoff win over West Seneca West, that culminated in fans rushing the court to celebrate with the team, last November it opened the door to the possibility of athletics beyond high school.
Signing inside the NTHS library, Fox was joined by his younger brother Noah Fox, their biological dad Scott Stoddard, their mom Mary Beth Fox and step-dad Steve DeWolfe. As well as coach Hodgson.
“I’ve always wanted to play sports in college,” Fox said, “but as my senior year came I didn’t really think much about what I wanted to do. It was clear after the West Seneca West game and all of the interest I got from other schools, (that it was possible).”
Getting pulled up to varsity as a sophomore, Fox slowly but surely worked his way into a starting role. Seeing quality and substantial playing time last season, Fox became the Jacks primary setter this season.
“We know we have a good program. We know these kids can play. It’s kind of the hidden gem in our community,” Hodgson said. “It’s primarily the other big sports in our area. To see these kids like Jordan, among others, coming from our schools and play at the next level couldn’t make us happier and more validated that we’re doing right by these kids.”
Hodgson said it was Jordan’s mix of grit, character, determination and a strong work ethic that earned him a job on the varsity team. And it’s those very same qualities that will help Jordan Fox make the difficult leap from high school sports to the demanding world of collegiate athletics.
“Once he saw the validation from somebody, not just his friends or coaches that he’s known for a while,” said Hodgson. “These relative strangers come out and say we want you to play on this team. To be part of this program. The sky is the limit. Of course he has the work ethic because he put in his time here the last few years. He’s gonna get bigger, stronger, faster and fall more in love with the game.”
While he was flattered and humbled to be approached by multiple college coaches-including Hilbert and St. John Fisher, Fox said it didn’t take long before he knew his future would be as a Maverick.
“When I went for my overnight visit at Medaille it was just overwhelming,” Fox said. “We got there, I went with Chris Pauline who I played with on the volleyball team. We got there and they were just extremely welcoming. We had an open gym with the team and everything just felt right.”
Also spending two seasons as a member of the Jacks basketball team, Fox said the influences of Coach Hodgson and basketball coach Ryan Mountain were both so vital in shaping him as a student-athlete.
“Going from Hodgson, who’s kind of a laid back coach, but you know exactly what he wants and when he wants to to basketball with coach Mountain,” Fox said. “He really brought out the whole intensity part of it. It was a great combination of coaches to have in my high school athletic career.”
Though volleyball is the sport that set Fox on the path to college he couldn’t help but smile as he reflected on the memories made with the Jacks basketball team that won the Section VI Class A title, making it to Far West Regionals. Farther than any NT basketball team ever went before.
To go through that experience with long time friends, some of which who were teammates on volleyball too, was more than Jordan could have ever asked for.
“It was an overwhelming feeling and we felt like we had the entire community behind us and we did.” Fox said. “It was just an unbelievable feeling.”