The Lakeridge boys soccer team is ready for a new start.
And new head coach Alan Cox is ready to help the Pacers get just that.
Cox, 36, was hired as Lakeridge's new head coach following the resignation of Jason Bell at the end of the Pacers' 2018 season. Bell led the program for six years, amassing a 24-14-6 record in Three Rivers League play, a 50-29-15 overall mark and leading his team to the 2016 Class 6A state championship.
Cox comes to Lakeridge following eight seasons as an assistant to Lake Oswego boys soccer head coach Fraser Morrison. While he very much expected to continue in that position this year, the Pacers' head coaching job was one he just couldn't turn down.
"The girls head coach told me it would be coming available … and it piqued my interest," Cox said. "(Lakeridge's athletic director) reached out and I put my name in there to see what would happen."
After going through the interview process and being offered the position, Cox decided he was ready to make the move from Lake Oswego to Lakeridge.
"I was very happy (assisting at Lake Oswego) — if it had been any other school but Lakeridge, I wouldn't have considered it," Cox said. "But it was too good an opportunity to pass up. I had to jump on it."
"It was too good an opportunity to pass up. I had to jump on it."
— Alan Cox
Cox has a long history in soccer as both a player and coach. He played club soccer while growing up in Plymouth — a port city in Devon, southwest England — and later, spent two years in a semipro league with Hastings United.
After graduating from college with degrees in media and geography, Cox — who met his wife in England (they now have children ages 8, 6 and 3) — moved to America to pursue coaching full-time.
He first served as director of coaching for Oregon United Soccer Academy in Eugene from 2003-06, then moved to the college ranks to assist with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas women's soccer team from 2006-08. He also worked with FC Las Vegas' state and regional teams as director of coaching during his time in Nevada.
Next, Cox moved back to Oregon and took a job with a private equity firm (he currently works as owner of Westlake Timber Supply in Tualatin), but coaching soccer remained an important part of his life. He coached with Lake Oswego Soccer Club from 2010-16, working with Morrison to lead the girls program for players ages 15-18, while also assisting Morrison with the Laker boys varsity team through 2018.
Now, in his new head coaching position, Cox is ready to reignite the rivalry between the Lakers and Pacers, as well as a friendly rivalry between himself and Morrison.
"I know all the kids in the program (at Lake Oswego) so it's bittersweet, but it should be a real rivalry, both personally and for the team" Cox said. "It should really make (playing Lake Oswego) special."
While Cox's familiarity with his Lakeridge program is still relatively modest — he led the Pacers through team camp a week ago and opened fall practices on Monday, Aug. 19 — he likes what he's seen so far.
"I think we'll stand toe-to-toe," he said. "The senior class is really small, but everyone who played last year is back."
Following the Pacers' championship year in 2016, Lakeridge dropped off in 2017-18, going just 4-5-4 in league play and 9-14-6 overall, losing in the first round of the state playoffs in 2017 and missing the playoff field in 2018.
For Cox, one of his first goals is to try and re-establish a winning culture at Lakeridge.
"We want to foster an environment that will create a competitive edge. The environment we create will be really important," he said. "We want to be inclusive and give them a chance to be the best they can be. We're trying to create an environment where everyone is important."
After a difficult 2018 campaign — Lakeridge went 1-4-1 and finished fifth in league, 2-10-2 overall and missed the playoffs — that inclusiveness and togetherness should serve the Pacers well in 2019.
"Whatever our individual goals, it comes down to us finding our winning mentality as a team," Cox added. "We're trying to find the winning mentality again, how to work hard and win for the team."
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