Mr. Knox’s double life

Some call him Mr. Knox, the AP Human Geography teacher. Some know him as Jerry Knox, the Guinness basketball dribbling marathon record holder. Recently, another title has been added to the list: Coach Knox, the freshmen basketball coach.

Knox played basketball from fifth to twelfth grade and has coached basketball for a total of 16 years: seven years at Walnut High School and nine years for his son’s team. He also has had past experience with coaching soccer for two years.

“I think I’m patient and I actually think I work hard and it’s not really easy to coach,“ Knox said. “I think there’s a lot of bad coaches out there so hopefully I can be a good coach and encourage people to be healthy.”

Growing up with a love for sports taught Knox plenty about discipline, and he learned to lead his players with a balance between leniency and strictness.

“I think just having experience with a lot of people, you understand that you need to be consistent and fair,” Knox said. “I try to encourage [my players] so I think I’m a pretty mellow coach. I don’t scream at everyone and say mean things about them but at the same time I don’t let people do whatever they want, so I have high expectations.”

Aside from coaching, teaching and marathon running both play huge roles in Knox’s life. He has taught AP Geography for 12 years as well as Economics and World History. Not only that, Knox has run a total of 55 marathons and has been running five days, 50 miles a week for seven years. Knox ran his first marathon in 2007 just to say he accomplished it. But now, it’s his hobby, and he runs in his free time.

“[Running] is like ‘Why do I love food?’ I mean it’s like life. To get your heart pumping and run around it’s just fun. And I run just miles, but if you have a sport involved to keep score, it’s fun to be competitive, it’s fun to play games,” Knox said. “And it’s even [more fun] to play games if you get some physical activity, as well. It’s all the energy.”

Knox recently set the Guinness World Record for running a marathon while dribbling two basketballs. The idea of dribbling two basketballs while doing a marathon came from both of his passions — basketball and running — mixed into one. Six years ago, his son had discovered someone who had set the record, which motivated Knox to beat the record.

“It takes three hours so you have to run at a certain pace in order to do it. So you keep looking at your watch and you think ‘if I keep staying at this pace then I’ll set the record.’ But the fact is you’re absolutely exhausted and so you’re happy, but you’re actually just kind of happy that you’re done,” Knox said. “So I think it’s easier to enjoy it after you’ve eaten and had something to drink [and] got out of the sun. But at the time it’s just like ‘I’m glad to be done with the race.’”

A year later, someone else beat Knox’s record, but after four years of working to improve his speed, Knox succeeded in setting the record again, earning his title back.

“I’ve always played basketball and I run so it’s just the one little freaky thing I can do,” Knox said. “I’m getting older and so I’m not going to get any faster so it’s kind of now or never.”

Coaching the freshmen basketball team combines Knox’s love of sports with his ability to teach, allowing him to effectively support his players. His goals for the season are to go undefeated in league and to win the three tournaments his team is in.

“As a teacher you have to plan before you teach and as the year goes on, you’re going to learn different things. You can’t just show up and start making stuff up for two hours and what you’re going to do,” Knox said. “The same thing with sports: you start off here and you keep adding things and improving, and you have a plan that you’re trying to fulfill.”

By Olivia Chiang, Staff writer

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