The trademark phrase of the National Collegiate Athletic Association promotional commercials says, “There are over 360,000 NCAA student-athletes, and just about all of us will be going pro in something other than sports.” That may not be the case for Whitworth soccer’s senior center-back Dion Coxe. “I hope to keeping playing, at least in the near future, and play professionally if I can,” Coxe said.
Last summer, he tried out with the Portland Timbers U-21 team, and has family in Belgium and Holland who could serve as a possible way for him to connect with a professional team in Europe.
“I’m open to anything, it’s tough to make it in, in the pro ranks,” Coxe said. “So anywhere that I could play, I’d be happy to.”
But for the time being, he is focused on his current collegiate soccer season and giving his collegiate career at Whitworth a strong finish.
“Just doing what I can to help the team is basically my personal goal,” Coxe said. “We want to win conference first, that’s most important.”
His time with the Pirates began after Whitworth men’s head soccer coach Sean Bushey spotted him at a showcase tournament in Portland during Coxe’s high school career.
He noted the significant transition from high school soccer to collegiate soccer.
“The difference is huge,” Coxe said. “Pretty much everything in the game changes.”
Although the players are faster and stronger at the collegiate level, statistics prove Coxe hasn’t struggled much in his adaptation. He started 40 games combined as a freshman and sophomore, and was named to the All-Northwest Conference second team as a junior.
“Dion is one that has made an immediate impact when he arrived on campus, but has also had great growth as a player,” Bushey said. “He has worked hard at becoming better.”
Part of that player progression has been Coxe’s willingness to change positions for the better of the team.
“He is one that always accepts his role on the team,” Bushey said. “He came in as a center midfielder and we made him a right-back. He did that for two years and last year we made him a center-back and had him play there and he accepted that and did well.”
Coxe, now a senior captain on the squad, has grown and settled into his important role at the center-back position. He had not played on the defensive side of the ball before arriving at Whitworth.
“I’ve just come to embrace it, it’s fun being back there, being the last line before the goalkeeper,” Coxe said.
Regardless of his post-collegiate career, Coxe said he is satisfied with his decision to play at Whitworth and his ability to develop into an all-conference defender for a potent Bucs team. He has an important role as the senior captain this year and desires to leave a lasting impact on the program.
“I love the soccer program here - everything about it - from the coach to the players,” Coxe said. “My favorite part of Whitworth is just playing soccer here and being a part of that team.”
By Andrew Forhan