COLUMBIA — Jill Cox laughed as she spoke over the phone.
“He told one of the boys that if he ever made that pass again he would cut off his legs,” Cox said.
Cox was describing Kevin Roderique, who has been an assistant soccer coach at Columbia College since 2001. Cox’s son Jordan, a Columbia native and sophomore midfielder for the Cougars, has played for Roderique since 2002.
“Of course, he was joking and the boy knew it, but that’s how he gets his points across,” Jill Cox said.
The Cox family first met Roderique after he agreed to coach Jordan Cox’s club team.
“My first impression was he was funny and very easy to talk too,” Jordan Cox said. “I knew about his history of success as a player and coach, so I was very excited.”
Roderique’s connection with the Cox family grew quickly.
“Since I was a team manager,” Jill Cox said, “I talked with Kevin a lot. We talked about money, tournaments, players and games.”
A bond soon began to develop between the coach and the family.
“Communication between them and me started a really good relationship,” Roderique said. “We would talk quite a bit about the team and games, and it just grew from there.”
Jordan Cox said he enjoyed Roderique’s laid-back, relaxed coaching style. He said he liked how Roderique made the game fun to play, yet also took it seriously and played to win.
“His practices made me enjoy going to practice.” Jordan Cox said, “We played a lot of games inside of our drills that made them fun to do, instead of just boring drills.”
Jordan Cox said he also liked how Roderique related to him and his teammates. Roderique would use corny jokes to loosen up players and talk casually with sarcastic remarks as if he was just one of the guys. Yet most importantly for Jordan Cox, Roderique made it easier to understand what he wanted by talking to his players without shouting and yelling.
“I would just try to talk to Jordan, and tell him what I wanted from him,” Roderique said. “If I would’ve yelled at him, I don’t think he would’ve responded well.”
Jordan Cox enjoyed Roderique so much that he continued to play for the coach on a club team throughout his high-school years. The friendship between the Cox family and Roderique developed into a strong bond built on trust.
“We would have team picnics and sometimes he would come over to the house to just talk about soccer,” Jordan Cox said. “My family and I trusted him with a lot, especially when it came to soccer.”
Roderique felt the same.
“Jordan did what exactly what I wanted,” Roderique said. “He would work hard without complaining. He didn’t want glory, he just wanted to play.”
That connection paid dividends when Jordan Cox began his college search.
“Jordan wanted to play close to home so we looked at Truman, William Woods, and Columbia College,” Jill Cox said.
For Roderique, recruiting Jordan Cox was like recruiting his own son. He wanted Jordan Cox to come to Columbia College and continue to play for him. At the same time, he wanted what was best for Jordan Cox and wanted him to be happy.
“I told him we were very interested, but I wanted him to find the place that was best for him,” Roderique said. “I wasn’t trying to sell him or anything, I just wanted him to go to a good school.”
In the end, the decision was easy. Columbia College was where Jordan Cox wanted to be and Roderique was the coach for whom he wanted to play.
“Kevin never pushed Columbia College onto Jordan,” Jill Cox said. “He just helped him find the right place to be.”
The trust between Jordan Cox and Roderique is stronger now than it has ever been. Jordan Cox has played in every game in the past two years for the Cougars, with Roderique being there at most of the practices and games as head assistant.
“I don’t feel pressured, and I am more relaxed when he is around,” Jordan Cox said. “I can just be myself.”
The Cox family is still close with Roderique because he coaches the family’s second son’s club team.
“My youngest asked me if Kevin was going to be his coach some day,” Jill Cox said, “and I told him maybe, you just never know.”