High School Sports

Stone's Cox joins long-time friend Bridges on St. Martin baseball staff

COURTESY DEANNA COX 
 Former Stone High baseball coach Hayden Cox plans to join Kary Bridges' first staff at St. Martin.
COURTESY DEANNA COX Former Stone High baseball coach Hayden Cox plans to join Kary Bridges' first staff at St. Martin.

Hayden Cox and Kary Bridges used to cross paths quite a bit.

Whether it was when they were playing for Hattiesburg and Oak Grove in high school or once they went off to school. Regardless of their location, they always remained close. When Bridges was climbing the minor league ranks, he'd pop into town to see Cox's Vancleave Bulldogs. Bridges' kids even call Cox "Uncle Hayden."

The two always said that if the stars aligned just right they'd like to coach with one another.

"We've been friends a long time, back to our high school days and even competing against each other in college," Cox told the Sun Herald on Friday. "We've talked about it in the past. In certain times it never came together but we always kept it in the back of our minds."

As it turns out, the timing was perfect with St. Martin and Cox, who spent the last three years leading Stone High's baseball program, has decided to join Bridges on the Yellow Jackets' staff.

The move is pending board approval.

"We're looking forward to it," said Cox, who told Stone's players and administration of his plans earlier in the week. "Hopefully we don't pull each other's hair out. I know he's one of the best minds around and gets the best out of his kids."

Bridges, who was hired at St. Martin after six seasons at Water Valley, said something similar about Cox.

"He's a great friend, but he's also a great baseball coach," Bridges said. "I think he's as good of a coach as there is."

Cox posted a 35-38 record in three seasons with the Tomcats.

"I'm just thankful for the opportunity they gave me," Cox said. "I met some very good people and players at Stone. It was a real good experience for me and I wish them nothing but the best."

Asked if it's difficult to turn over control of his own program and step back as an assistant, Cox said he has no regrets about the move.

"I enjoyed being the head coach," he said. "It's always nice being in charge but I never thought that defined me as a person or a coach. Cox's role on St. Martin's staff has not been officially determined. Bridges said he wants to let the summer season play out before making any decisions.

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