Written by Jeremy S. Franklin
Thurs., Aug. 21 -- To most observers, following Nelson Fox on the Parry McCluer boys’ basketball bench would seem like the most unenviable of tasks.
But while Josh Blevins understands the risks involved in succeeding a legend, he’s also excited at the opportunity to grab the reins of the Fighting Blues’ program.
Blevins, 27, who was confirmed by the Buena Vista City School Board July 24, steps into his first varsity head coaching position this season. He will also teach physical education and driver’s education at the high school.
Blevins takes over for Fox, who retired after last season – his 35th at the helm of the Blues’ cagers. Fox amassed an astounding 554 wins, taking his team to the 1994 Group A championship game. He also coached the PM golf team, recording 461 victories over 38 seasons and guiding the Blues to the 1981 state title.
Fox’s final PM basketball team finished 16-8, winning the Pioneer District regular-season title and advancing to the Region 1A East quarterfinals.
Blevins acknowledges the pressure of filling those gigantic shoes. But he also sees an enormous upside: namely, the excitement of boys in Buena Vista who hope to one day lace up for the Blues – all because of the tradition that Fox’s teams established.
“It’s intimidating, in a way, because the expectations are high here, and I understand that,” Blevins said. “I also understand that I’m at least coming into a program where the young kids are looking up to it, and have looked up to it – unlike a program where it’s not been so satisfactory and the young kids don’t even care. I’m excited about that part of it.”
Serving as a head coach at the varsity level will be a new endeavor for Blevins, who played at Giles High School and graduated from Radford University. Prior to accepting the PM post, he spent two stints as the junior varsity coach at Rural Retreat, including the past two seasons on the Indians’ bench.
In between, Blevins served as a varsity assistant and JV head coach at New Kent High School from 2010-2012. There, he worked under Virginia High School League Hall of Famer Ed Allen, whom Blevins describes as “my mentor” and “a father figure.”
Though Fox has retired, Blevins is hoping that his two longtime assistants, Jerry Tutt and Rad Patterson, will remain with the PM program.
“They’ll be there as long as those two guys want to be there,” Blevins said. “There’s too much wealth of knowledge in those guys. I’d be crazy to ever think about getting rid of somebody like that.”
As to what fans might see from the Blues on the court this season, the new coach describes himself as “a defensive-minded guy” and stresses the importance of organization and discipline.
But regardless of what schemes the Blues may run in 2014-15 and beyond, Blevins hopes that his new charges can maintain the high level of basketball that’s become standard for the PM program.
It’s a “big opportunity for me,” he said. “I’m just trying to continue on with what [Coach Fox] has started. I’m going to continue, hopefully, the success that he has had.”