The tournament-within-a-tournament at the 25th Ravenscroft Golf Classic draws a record 25 alumni competitors and helps raise money for Ravenscroft Athletics.
In a school with no shortage of athletic dynasties over its 50-year history, Jimmy Cox’s record as coach of the Ravenscroft varsity boys golf team looms large. His teams won state championships in 1998, 2000, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2017, and numerous team alumni have gone on to collegiate play. Following Cox’s 2019 retirement from coaching and teaching in the Physical Education Department, many alumni and parents looked for a way to celebrate his 42-year career. In the end, the solution brought together the things he was most passionate about throughout his tenure here: community, athletics and Ravenscroft.
The inaugural Cox Cup — a tournament-within-a-tournament reserved just for alumni — took place on Oct. 4, 2021, during the 25th Ravenscroft Golf Classic at North Ridge Country Club in Raleigh. Cox and his longtime colleague and friend, retired Ravenscroft teacher Ed Yohman, were honorary co-chairs.
“Ten to 20 years from now, when an alum is playing for the Cox Cup, they might ask, ‘Who is Jimmy Cox?’ This is a wonderful way to honor someone who gave so many years to the golf program and to Ravenscroft.”
— Golf Classic Co-Chair Kenneth Haywood ’85
“When a school builds a strong sense of community, there are certain coaches or teachers who have been there for so long that they span multiple generations,” said Kenneth Haywood ’85, who with his wife, Tammy, co-chaired the 2021 Classic. “Jimmy Cox fits into this category. We wanted to recognize him for his contributions to the program in a lasting way.”
Alumni parents and former trustees Mary Brent Wright and Linda Nunnallee head out for some golf.
Teams of alumni, current and former parents, and other Ravenscroft supporters take to the greenway for the 2021 Golf Classic.
“Vital” to RAC’s mission
The addition of the Cox Cup to this year’s tournament was just one of the ways organizers successfully drew in more alumni. Other highlights included playing alongside cherished mentors such as Cox and Yohman and the fun of competing against past members of Ravenscroft’s golf teams.
The Classic is a volunteer-managed event, with budget and oversight from the parent-run Ravens Athletic Club in partnership with athletics staff. It’s also the most successful fundraising event for the school’s Athletics Department each year.
Volunteers Becky Gonet, Jill Morin and Jane Hamlin check in Golf Classic participants.
Golf Classic competitors gather before the event kicks off.
“The golf tournament is vital to the mission of RAC and its goal to support all athletes in grades PreK-12,” Jane Hamlin, RAC’s 2021-22 president, explained. “Historically, funds raised through the golf tournament have gone toward the purchase of spirit items, concession supplies, senior athlete recognition, varsity sports awards ceremonies and RAC’s wish list items.”
Over the 25 years of the tournament, RAC has also covered the expenses for bigger-ticket items not covered by the athletic department’s capital budget. These items have included lighter-weight golf bags for girls golf, broadcasting equipment for all sports, new safety mats for the high jump/pole vault pit, a wooden archway above the entrance to the cross-country trail and new touchpads for the swimming pool.
Recently, the proceeds from the tournament have helped support RAC’s $40,000 pledge toward the school’s new PlaySight Smart AI platform, which has upgraded athletics livestreaming and provided high-quality video for coaches and student-athletes looking to improve or refine performance.
Classmates Brad Ehilegbu ’12, Michael McNamara ’12, William McNamara ’12 and Winston Holloway ’12 prepare to compete for the Cox Cup.
A Special Event
But it’s more than these benefits of fundraising that have made the Classic such an enduring event.
“The goal of the Classic is to mix alumni and current parents together,” Tammy Haywood, whose two children are also Ravens, said. “For example, Kenneth graduated in 1985 and might never have had an opportunity to meet someone who graduated in, say, 2006. The Classic provides amazing networking and is one of the only events we have at the school that commingles all constituents of the school so seamlessly.”
Varsity golf alumnus Stephen Riddick ’00 agreed. “From being able to catch up with familiar faces like Jimmy Cox to meeting current Ravens on the golf team and seeing old friends, the Classic is a special event,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to stay connected to Ravenscroft. We have had the same team competing for multiple years, and I always make a point to participate so we can reconnect.”
Cox enthusiastically greets Clayton Allen ’99, who was a member of his first state-championship golf team in 1998.
Cox and Ed Yohman, who also taught at Ravenscroft for more than 40 years, were honorary co-chairs of the event.
For the 25th-anniversary tournament in 2021 (the event did not take place in 2020 due to COVID), organizers signed up a record 168 participants, including an all-time high of 25 alumni plus 11 alumni parents.
“My coaching career was a lot about relationships. We ate breakfast together as a team every Thursday morning. In the last month alone, I’ve shared meals with several of my past students. I’m thrilled the Cox Cup will continue building relationships for current and past students at Ravenscroft.”
— Retired Varsity Boys Golf Coach Jimmy Cox
“Golf is naturally a community- and social-driven sport,” Alumni Engagement Officer Dan Ressner ’99 said. “This year, we made a concerted effort to have an alumni-specific tourney-within-the-tourney with the Cox Cup. This brought even more alumni out to participate.”
“I hope the Cox Cup is the foundation for the alumni segment of the tournament to continue to grow,” Kenneth Haywood added. “Is there really any other event at the school where you are able to get together with old friends and new friends with socializing and a little competition as the main goal? It’s a day where alumni and others who support Ravenscroft can get together and share a common experience.”
“It was such a treat getting to play with Coach Cox. He is a true Ravenscroft legend,” Collin Cook ’99 said. “We had a great time, and you couldn’t ask for a better teammate. It was a really special day.”
Athletic Director Ned Gonet and Cox, back row center, pose with some of the 25 alumni who played at the 2021 Golf Classic.
Enjoy more of our photos from the 2021 Golf Classic on Flickr!
Did you know …?
Boys golf isn’t the only sport for which Jimmy Cox won a state championship. Under his leadership, the 1979-80 varsity boys basketball team brought home the crown after an unlikely run to the finals. According to the 1980 Corvus:
Before we played in the districts against Vance, we were 14-9. People thought there was no way we could win the State. We proved to people we had more desire than anyone. I think we can credit the State Championship to the togetherness of the team. The major factor, however, was the coaching and class of Jimmy Cox.
Cox continued to coach the varsity boys and then both the Green and Gold Middle School boys basketball teams in the years that followed — leading grateful parents and alumni to name the court of the Middle School gym in his honor in 2005 as part of the Charge to Victory campaign.