From assisting on the court to assisting on the coaching staff, Marist volleyball’s McKinley Fox is settling into her new role with the team. As of this spring going into next season, Fox will be joining head coach Sean Byron’s staff.
Fox will now be the third assistant coach under Byron joining Paul Vink-Lainas and Cara Conrad. Fox’s experience playing for the team, four years total, could be a direct benefit to the team for the 2023 season.
“It just worked out well for us that we have a spot on the coaching staff that we can have an extra coach and she’s around. She’s been setting the offense for four years so she’s pretty in tune to what’s going on,” said Byron.
The ability for Fox, a California native, to join the coaching staff for this upcoming season was a fairly natural transition as she is pursuing her MBA at Marist and will be living in the area through the 2023 season.
“It was a combination of her plan for a fifth year with COVID because she had an extra year of eligibility and then academically she wanted an MBA which is a two-year program,” said Byron.
“I honestly hadn’t thought about it much. I didn’t necessarily think it was the direction I was going to go into but as my career kind of came to an end I didn’t really want to leave the sport and enter the real world right away,” said Fox.
Though coaching was not necessarily the direction Fox saw herself heading after her playing career came to an end, she is starting to get comfortable with the new role. The former captain who led the entire MAAC in assists this past season will primarily work with the setters on the team.
“It is kind of a weird transition going from playing and always being around the team to just being around in a coaching aspect, but I think it’s kind of nice that Sean has kind of given me the ability to just work with the setters because that was my position,” said Fox. “So just being able to work with them is something I’m looking forward to.”
Byron has already seen the benefit of having Fox on the staff given her experience playing in his system since he took over as head coach in 2019. Recently she has been working with a setter who just joined the team this semester, getting her up to speed with the offensive system but also working with her to improve her technical skills and ability.
“She’s been really good in terms of working with a setter that joined us for the spring and helping her out, technically working with her, where her hands are and position wise,” said Byron. “Being able to talk to the team about tactics, like this is what we’re doing, this is what we’re looking for.”
As a student-athlete with the Red Foxes, Fox was a workhorse both on and off the court. In her career with Marist, Fox was named to the MAAC All-Academic Team in her sophomore, junior and senior years while also receiving the honor this past season again as a graduate student.
On the court, Fox was named to the All-MAAC Second Team her senior season while also racking up 2,078 total assists in her final two seasons with the Red Foxes. This all came while starting for Marist as a setter in both of her final two years with the program.
Fox is only planning to be on the coaching staff for one season as she finishes her MBA program before pursuing a career in finance. But as a coach, Byron may plug her in at practices because of her understanding of the system.
“At the same time, she can step in and play too. We had a kid get hurt this morning and literally ran to the training room so we didn’t miss a beat,” said Byron. “McKinley stepped in and was able to play and run the offense on that side.”
With familiar teammates now under her wing, Fox brings the mature voice of a former captain and relatability to the roster that will greatly benefit a Red Foxes squad that was one of the best teams in the MAAC regular season last year. With the five-year setter part of the staff for the 2023 season, Marist will hope to make a push for a conference title.
Edited by Ricardo Martinez and Jonathan Kinane
Photo from Marist Athletics