Tom Vix nominated for National Coach of the Year

Chad Smith

Former Rushford-Peterson boys’ basketball coach and current Spring Grove High School science teacher Tom Vix was up for the National Coach of the Year Award. 

Though he did not receive the award, it’s important to recognize his accomplishments in coaching and teaching. 

Vix was one of eight finalists from across the country who were honored during the National Coach of the Year Banquet which took place on June 26 in Bismarck, North Dakota. 

No one was more surprised than Vix himself to find out he’d even been nominated after retiring as the Trojans’ boys basketball coach.

“I was completely surprised,” he said. “I was kind of out of the loop. I did know they went back a year in looking for their national coach of the year winner. I got the Minnesota Coach of the Year Award after my last season at Rushford-Peterson. The Minnesota Coaches Association looks at the four winners they have each year and pick the one they’ll send in for the national honor.

“The coaches association called me and said I was the one they’d nominated. They told me I needed to fill out forms and that they were behind me 100 percent. I sent the forms in knowing there were 49 other coaches doing the exact same thing. I did it and didn’t think about it any further.”

Vix said the biggest surprise was finding out he’d made the final round. He’s the oldest coach that’s left standing among the nominees. One of the biggest factors in choosing the winner is longevity in the profession. However, he says getting into the finals was “shocking, because there are a lot of fantastic coaches across the country.” 

Since retiring from R-P, Vix has kept busy. He’s had time to reflect on his tenure with the Trojans and appreciates everything about those years. “Memories keep coming up as I talk to people,” he said. “People ask me all the time if I remember things that happened during certain years. That’s been a lot of fun”

Vix tried something last season that he hadn’t done in a long time. He volunteered as an assistant coach at Spring Grove under long-time friend Wade Grinde. 

“I got the chance to help a good friend in coaching do something he’d never done before (reach the state tournament),” Vix recalled. “Not everyone coaches the same way, so it was a great chance to learn some new things. It was so much fun to get the energy up again and be around quality people.”

The nicest thing about not being a head coach for the first time in decades? 

“You didn’t have to do things like statistics, reports for the press, or deal with parent issues. I didn’t deal with all the extra stuff, but instead went in for two hours and got to coach. I got to do the fun stuff like build relationships with athletes and didn’t have to deal with any of the headaches,” he said.

Looking ahead to the banquet in June, whether or not he comes out with the award, Vix is most excited about getting to meet some of the top coaches from around the nation.

“I Googled some of the other names on the finalist list and they’re all great people,” Vix said. “They’ve all been around for about 35 years, just like me. They all have similar records and have accomplished a lot of the same things in their careers. Make no mistake, I’m not going there expecting to win. I’m going out there to have some fun, which will be the best part of the deal.”