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BY JEFF FALK

Not sure exactly when coaches decide they want to be head coaches.

Some start out knowing they’re going to be head coaches, while some come to that realization over time. Others have it thrust upon them.

For Matt Knox, it was an opportunity to revisit his playing days, and in a way, to have his baseball career come full circle. But it was all about timing.

Knox was recently hired as the Cedar Crest baseball program’s new head coach, replacing Josh Brown, who stepped aside this summer. Knox will be paid a salary of $5,422.

“To be honest, I never realized I wanted to do that,” said Knox of becoming a head coach. “When Coach Brown’s time was done, I wanted to step in and build off what he did. There wasn’t a light bulb that went off.

“The opportunity presented itself,” added Knox. “I don’t know where I’ll be in a few years. I’m not sure the opportunity would’ve been there down the road. So I went in and applied.”

Knox is pretty much both a baseball guy and a Falcon, through and through.

Following stellar playing careers at Cedar Crest and Millersville University, Knox was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 13th round of the 2001 Major League Baseball draft. After playing professional baseball for five years, Knox founded Elite Baseball in Lancaster, an academy that helps younger players improve their skills and further their playing careers.

“Each of those experiences has helped mold how I teach and coach,” said Knox. “Each is going to lend a degree of experience to me for this position. It’s my alma mater. It’s an opportunity to take over a program I’m familiar with. This seemed to be a time and an opportunity that made sense.

“That’s (coaching and teaching) all the fun stuff I do (at Elite Baseball),” continued Knox. “We teach with individual lessons. I coach all age levels. Being on the field and getting a chance to work with kids are the things I enjoy the most.”

During the 2017 and 2018 spring seasons, Knox served as Brown and Cedar Crest’s pitching coaching. In his playing days, Knox was a position player who was converted into a pitcher.

“I thought Josh did a fanstastic job during the years he was there,” said Knox. “There’s a whole bunch of talent at Cedar Crest. We want to go out and develop talent and win baseball games. They’ve had a bunch of years where they were really good. I think the program is in a really good place now.

“We’ve (he and Brown) always been friends,” Knox continued. “I played against him in high school and college. He called and asked if I wanted to be the pitching coaching, and I wasn’t ready to do it. He called again and asked if I would help. I decided I wanted to try something like that and had a great experience.”

Over the years, Cedar Crest baseball has been one of the most successful athletic programs in the history of Lebanon County athletics. But during the last decade, the Falcons haven’t enjoyed as much success.

“I don’t think you slow down from what they did before,” said Knox. “I think they would’ve had a great chance to compete if they had had a season (in the spring of 2020), and I think we have a great chance to be competitive this season. You have to have someone to drive those kids. The goal is to go out there and compete, and I’d want them to want to win the (Lancaster-Lebanon) league championship, go to districts and go to states.

“The kids need to buy in to what we’re trying to accomplish,” Knox added. “You have to want to be unselfish for your teammates. That’s how you compete and win games. It begins in the off-season.”

In addition to his wealth of experience, Knox also brings an unwavering competitive spirit to the program – one very similar to Brown’s. That same competitive spirit he had as a player has now brought him back to his roots.

“You don’t get a chance to play baseball, and want to win, if you’re not competitive,” said Knox. “My job there is to win baseball games. We want to mold the players into young men, but we also want to win. How competitive am I? I’ll put it to you this way, I have four-year-old and seven-year-old boys, and I don’t let them win.

“When I was in high school, we had a bunch of guys who wanted to win,” added Knox. “There were ten or 11 of us who wanted to go out and do whatever it took to win. Nine or ten of us went on to play college baseball. We had the same goals in mind.”

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

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