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From culinary to coaching; high school teacher puts heart into his craft

Coach Craig Cox, right, cooking for Friday night ‘s football game against Cloudland. The JCHS culinary students help Cox prepare food for staff and referees. Photo by Beth Cox

By Beth Cox

Walking into Coach Craig Cox’s kitchen at JCHS on a Friday when the football team is playing at home could be nothing short of walking into Gordon Ramsey’s famous kitchen.
One can not ignore the clatter of pots and pans, the aroma of food, and chatter of students scurrying around to complete the directions of the culinary arts teacher.
But, on football-Fridays, Cox’s dual responsibilities cover both the culinary arts and coaching.
Cox is one of very few culinary arts teachers who also happens to be a football coach.
Cox has taught and coached at JCHS for over five years. In those five years, he has prepared some of the best food this side of the Watauga Lake for both football staff and referees. Cox is also the assistant football coach for the JCHS football team.
“I’m pretty busy on home game football nights, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Cox said. “The culinary arts students help prepare the food throughout the day under close supervision and direction from Cox. The trained chef praises his students’ desire to learn, “they work hard for me; it gets crazy in the kitchen, but they stay pretty focused.”
Cox continues,” I put a lot of heart in both cooking and coaching, it’s important to represent the community to the fullest and let people know we have something special here in Mountain City.”
The referees most assuredly know of the “something special” Cox is referring to, including referee Drew Chambers, who commented about the Longhorn cuisine, “We referees know when we go to Johnson County, we are going to get a good meal. I prefer Coach Cox’s cooking over most restaurants.”
After all the food is prepared, Cox heads down to the football field to begin his coaching duties. The assistant coach loves being able to work with the football team “I enjoy coaching, I played in high school, so when asked if I wanted to help with the team, I was all in.” He and Coach Don Kerley started the same year, “I enjoy working with Coach, he’s a great Christian man, and I have learned a lot from him.”
After the game is over,
the stadium is cleared, and everyone heads home,
Cox is back in the kitchen finishing up,” I get out of there late, but I have great help; my family has been right there helping every step of the way. I wouldn’t be able to do both without them.”